Freddie Redd Day

May 29, 1928 – March 17, 2021

A tribute to the pianist and composer

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Pianist Freddie Redd passed away on March 17, 2021, at the age of 92.

He was born on May 29, 1928, in Harlem and began playing the piano at a young age.

While serving in the military during 1946-49, Redd first heard the music of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, becoming a bebop-oriented pianist.

He was discharged in 1949 and then freelanced in New York, including playing with Tiny Grimes (with whom he made his recording debut in 1950), Cootie Williams, Oscar Pettiford, and Art Blakey.

In 1955, Redd made his first records as a leader; he also recorded during 1955-56 with Gene Roland, Art Farmer, Gene Ammons, and (in Sweden in 1956) with Ernestine Anderson, Rolf Ericson, and Tommy Potter.

Redd gained some attention for his 1957 Riverside album “San Francisco Suite” but became quite well known when he wrote for the play “The Connection” in 1960.

“The Connection” was recorded for Blue Note in a quartet also featuring Jackie McLean; two follow-up albums (only one released at the time) were also recorded, including McLean and Tina Brooks during 1960-61, but Redd was then absent from recordings for ten years.

The pianist spent many years living in Denmark and France before moving back to the US in 1974.

The rest of his life found Freddie Redd slipping into obscurity, only to be briefly rediscovered and recorded again before another disappearance; his last recordings were made for Steeplechase during 2014-15, and he was still playing quite well that late in life.

Here is Freddie Redd performing “The Thespian” at Fat Cat in New York on Feb. 19, 2011, along with altoist Josh Benko, tenor saxophonist Asaf Yuria, bassist Ben Meigners, and drummer Phil Stewart.

– Scott Yanow


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