Freddie Redd in 2013
May 29, 1928|
Harlem, New York City, U.S.
|Genres||Jazz, hard bop|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, composer, actor|
|Instruments||Piano, keyboards, organ, composer|
|Labels||Blue Note, Savoy, Prestige|
|Associated acts||Jackie McLean, Tina Brooks, Howard McGhee|
Redd was born and grew up in New York City; after losing his father at the age of one, he was raised by his mother, who moved around Harlem, Brooklyn and other neighborhoods. An autodidact, he began playing the piano at a young age and took to studying jazz seriously upon hearing Charlie Parker during his military service in Korea in the mid-1940s.
Upon discharge from the Army in 1949, he worked with drummer Johnny Mills, and then in New York played with Tiny Grimes, Cootie Williams, Oscar Pettiford and the Jive Bombers. In 1954 he was playing with Art Blakey. Redd toured Sweden in 1956 with Ernestine Anderson and Rolf Ericson.
Redd's greatest success came in the late 1950s when he was invited to compose the music for The Living Theatre's New York stage production of The Connection, which was also used in the subsequent 1961 film. In both play and film he performed as an actor and musician. The theater production enjoyed a modest success and the troupe toured the United States and Europe, performing in New York City, London, and Paris. Redd also led a Blue Note album featuring his music for the play. which featured Jackie McLean on alto sax. His success in the theater production, though, did not advance his career in the United States, and shortly afterwards he moved to Europe, spending time in Denmark and France.
He returned to the United States in 1974 and resettled on the West Coast; he became a regular on the San Francisco scene and recorded intermittently up until 1990. In 2011 he resettled in Baltimore, where he currently resides.
He has always struggled to establish himself commercially, however musically, his creative lines, particular voicings and innovative compositions have solidified his reputation; he has worked with such musicians as Jackie McLean, Tina Brooks, Paul Chambers, Howard McGhee, Milt Hinton, Lou Donaldson, Benny Bailey, Charles Mingus, Louis Hayes, Al McKibbon, Billy Higgins, Osie Johnson, Tommy Potter, Joe Chambers and many more. He even contributed organ to James Taylor's original 1968 recording of Carolina in My Mind. Redd recorded several albums as leader, including three Blue Note albums. He is still active and as such is one of the last of the pioneers of the hardbop golden age still on the scene, most recently completing a European tour in 2013.
- 1955 - Piano - East/West (Savoy) one half of an album shared with Hampton Hawes
- 1955 - Introducing the Freddie Redd Trio (Prestige)
- 1957 - San Francisco Suite (Riverside)
- 1960 - The Music from ″The Connection″ (Blue Note)
- 1960 - Shades Of Redd (Blue Note)
- 1961 - Redd's Blues (Blue Note) - released 1988
- 1963 - Movin' (New Jazz)
- 1971 - Under Paris Skies (Futura)
- 1977 - Straight Ahead! (Interplay)
- 1978 - Extemporaneous (Interplay)
- 1985 - Lonely City (Uptown)
- 1988 - Live at the Studio Grill (Troika)
- 1990 - Everybody Loves a Winner (Milestone)
- 1998 - Freddie Redd and his International Jazz Connection (2001, Fairplay INJazz)
- Gene Ammons: All Star Sessions (Prestige, 1955)
- Joe Roland: Easy Living (Bethlehem, 1955)
- Rolf Ericson: Rolf Ericson & The American All Stars (Dragon, 1956)
- Art Farmer: When Farmer Met Gryce (Prestige, 1955)
- Tiny Grimes: The Complete 1950-1954, Volumes 3, 4, 5 (Blue Moon)
- Howard McGhee: The Music from the Connection (Felstead, 1961)
- Nat Hentoff, From the liner notes of Shades Of Redd, Blue Note.
- Peter Watrous, "Freddie Redd Sums It Up in Three Blue Notes", The New York Times (Archives), September 3, 1989.
- Greg Burk, "Freddie Redd interview, 2005", from LA Weekly, 8/4/05.