PortFolio Weekly

PortFolio Weekly
April 22, 2008

The Many Shades of Redd

by Jim Newsom

Chuck Redd & Robert Redd
When Redd is Blue


Annapolis resident Chuck Redd has been down here a lot over the last few years, most notably as a featured sideman for several Jazz on Granby concerts including the recent “Tribute to Tommy Newsom.” He’ll be in Norfolk again on Saturday night to headline the Virginia Arts Festival’s first “Attucks Jazz Club” show.

His most recent recording, When Redd is Blue, features piano-playing brother Robert in a relaxed set that pays homage to family, friends, mentors and influences. Kicking off with a mid-tempo jaunt through one of Billy Strayhorn’s lesser known works, “Boo Dah,” the duo lead the assembled sextet through a mix of originals and underappreciated chestnuts, giving a master class in the art of straightahead jazz improvisation in the process.

Not surprisingly, Chuck’s vibes contribute the most interesting timbral element to the ensemble’s sound. But Robert acquits himself well as both soloist and accompanist. And his composition, “Basically Betts,” is a bouncy tribute to an old friend, bassist Keter Betts, who first made his mark with Chuck’s former employer Charlie Byrd, on the Jazz Samba album in 1962.

Chuck’s “When Redd is Blue” is aptly titled, evoking visions of a lazy autumn afternoon with Bill Evans or George Shearing on the stereo. Other standout tracks include Duke Ellington’s sultry “Flirt Bird,” featuring Harry Allen’s sexy saxophonics playing off the vibes, and a downright funky reading of Byrd’s “Blues for Night People.” Guitarist Steve Abshire milks every ounce of bluesiness he can out of the gospel-infused “Trouble in Mind.”

Saturday, Chuck Redd fronts a quintet featuring pianist John Toomey and guitarist Woody Beckner. If this CD serves as the template, it will be a cool night of sweet jazz at the Attucks.

Chuck Redd Quintet
Saturday, April 26 – 8:00 pm
282-2800; www.virginiaartsfest.com

copyright © 2008 Jim Newsom. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.


"The Music Lives On"
March 25, 2008
Chuck Redd talks about Tommy Newsom.

"Painting the Vibes Redd"
October 9, 2007
An interview with Chuck Redd.