Posted May 7, 2019
by Jazz Musician Chuck Redd
On June 6, annual JBFC series Jazz Sessions celebrates the 80th anniversary of Blue Note Records with a screening of It Must Schwing: The Blue Note Story, an intimate and rich telling of a friendship and a pivotal label in jazz history. JBFC Mixtapes is an initiative from the Burns to highlight the music—from soundtracks to scores—that makes the cinematic experience so special, so we’re honored to have the great Chuck Redd share some of his favorite Blue Note tunes for Vol. 14 of the JBFC Mixtapes, as well as his thoughts on why they are important to him. He writes:
“I go to these recordings often for inspiration and continue to learn from the master musicians immortalized on Blue Note. The warm, resonant, natural sound achieved by Rudy Van Gelder and his beautiful studio is a very important part of these performances. I had the honor of recording at Van Gelder studio with saxophonist Houston Person a few years ago. Rudy engineered the session and we were playing in that amazing room where all of the recordings above were made. I was in a sacred place.”
Chuck Redd’s Blue Note Favorites:
- “Moanin” by Art Blakey, from Moanin
“Moanin” is the first Blue note recording I ever heard when I was a teenager. Art Blakey’s shuffle groove, Lee Morgan’s searing trumpet, Benny Golson’s unique tenor sound, and Bobby Timmons’s sanctified solo still reach me deeply. It’s no wonder that this is an iconic record.
- “Along Came Betty” by Art Blakey, from Moanin
The way the band plays “Betty” is a lesson in dynamics and drama. Benny Golson’s composition is a perfect miniature story that allows us to experience three or four moods in 32 bars.
- “No Room for Squares” by Hank Mobley, from No Room for Squares
I heard this on the radio when I was about 18 and I couldn’t get to the record store fast enough to buy it. I remember thinking that the drummer sounded Blakey-esque but somehow different; the drumming was still intense but a bit more elastic. It was my introduction to the great Philly Joe Jones. He became a major influence on me as he was for so many others.
- “Three Way Split by Hank Mobley, from No Room for Squares
This track brings more fire from Philly Joe and Lee Morgan plays with an impressive sense of relaxed intensity and economy. I still love playing drums along with this track as well as with “No Room for Squares.”
- “Fe Fi Fo Fum” by Wayne Shorter, from Speak No Evil
How Wayne Shorter arrives at harmonic and melodic decisions will always elude me yet his compositions somehow feel organic and inevitable. I love this tune-it contains mystery and the blues.
- “Infant Eyes” by Wayne Shorter, from Speak No Evil
This composition and recording is nothing short of hypnotic in its beauty and poignancy.
- “Straight Up and Down” by The Duke Pearson Big Band, from Introducing The Duke Pearson Big Band
The great drummer Mickey Roker is on fire here. With a freewheeling spirit, he catches every necessary ensemble figure while constantly sparking the band with his finger popping time.
- “Backstage Sally” by Art Blakey, from Buhaina’s Delight
I love the stealthy, almost humorous quality of this Wayne Shorter composition-you can see Sally!
- “Shaky Jake” by Art Blakey, from Buhaina’s Delight
This early Cedar Walton composition already demonstrated his very personal, soulful and sophisticated way of transforming the blues by using hip chords. Great solos by the horn players and Cedar.
- “Cool Struttin” by Sonny Clark, from Cool Struttin’
This is a classic by an underrated master of bebop piano.
- “Speak Like A Child” by Herbie Hancock, from Speak Like a Child
This recording is a masterpiece by Herbie Hancock that features the great Thad Jones’s transcendent arrangement. I love Mickey Roker and Ron Carter’s impeccable sound and feel on this tune and the entire album.
- “Empty Pockets” by Herbie Hancock from his first album as a leader, Takin Off
The deep groove laid down by Billy Higgins and Butch Warren on this moody blues is masterful and Dexter Gordon’s perfectly constructed solo is a composition within a composition.
- “Broadway” by Dexter Gordon, from Our Man in Paris
I love Kenny Clarke’s hi hat and snare drum introduction and Dexter’s solo is an engaging story that reveals itself in rhythm and melody. The first time I heard it, I was sure Dexter was telling that story to only me.
- “The Kicker” by Horace Silver, from Song for My Father
This track is pure joyous, romping swing and the drum solo by 19 year old Roger Humphries is an explosion of youthful spirit and virtuosity.
- “This I Dig of You” by Hank Mobley, from This I Dig of You
This is quintessential soulful Hank Mobley. The unrelenting swing on “This I Dig…” is driven once again by the ferocious Art Blakey, an undisputed force of nature at the drums.
Chuck Redd is well known internationally as both a drummer and vibraphonist. Jazz Times described his vibes work as “Exquisite!” He began touring at the age of 21 with the likes of Barney Kessel, Charlie Byrd and Herb Ellis and has since toured and performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Mel Torme, Tommy Flanagan, Bill Mays, Ray Brown, Monty Alexander, Bucky Pizzarelli, Scott Hamilton, Houston Person, and so many others. His tours have taken him from Namibia to the White House. Chuck is the 2019 musical director of The Oregon Festival of American Music. He is a featured soloist, annually at The W.C. Handy Music Festival, The Newport Beach Jazz Party, The West Texas Jazz Party, The North Carolina Jazz Festival, The Roswell Jazz Festival, The San Diego Jazz Party and The Colorado Springs Jazz Party. Chuck’s 2019 release is Groove City on Dalphine Records.
JBFC series Jazz Sessions runs May 29-June 19, 2019. The JBFC Member pre-sale begins Tuesday, May 7 at noon, and tickets go on sale to the public Friday, May 10 at noon. Jazz Sessions is sponsored by Adam R. Rose and Peter R. McQuillan.
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