This 4-disk offering from Real Gone Jazz contains 8 full albums from Red Garland, the fine pianist who played with Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Trane, and then between 1955-58 with The Miles Davis Quintet whilst all the time playing with his own line-up which went through various incarnations over the years.
Here's what you get on your four disks:
Disk 1 1. Red Garland Quintet - Dig It (1957-58) 2. Red Garland's Piano (1957)
Disk 2 1. Can't See for Lookin' (1958) 2. Red Alone (1960)
Disk 3 1. Groovy (1957) 2. Soul Junction (1957)
Disk 4 1. It's a Blue World (1958) 2. Red in Bluesville (1959)
Garland's playing was characterized by his famous `block chord sound' with a four-note chord played by the left hand and a three-note counterpoint, usually one octave higher, by the right. He was once disparagingly referred to as `middle-of-the-road' (well, the great Ahmed Jamal's playing was often called `cocktail bar music'), but in fact Garland's music still sounds cool and remains accessible to modern listeners. The result is high-quality ambient jazz maybe lacking the more cutting-edge experimentations of Trane or Mingus, or the excessive discordant improvisational meanderings of Thelonious Monk; Garland's playing is closer to `trad', fine and mellow and the better for it.
Garland's trio recorded with most of the great jazzmen of the day including Kenny Burrelll and Philly Joe Jones, and one of the best disks in this collection is `Soul Junction' with Trane on sax. Like many jazz musicians of the era (Trane, Mingus, Lee Morgan) Garland died relatively young, in his case in 1984 from a heart attack at age 61.
Whilst acknowledging minor gripes from sound-obsessive purists, the quality of these Red Garland recordings is very good. It's doubtful that the claimed `digital re-mastering' of the series really offers any improvement over previous recordings. This collection is a good deal whichever way you look at it with timeless, quality jazz on offer for not much money; because rather than in spite of Garland's melodious and chilled-out style, this collection is likely to be popular and played a lot.