Compiled by Sid Gribetz
First published – March 2021
Pages in this Discography:
- Freddie Redd Session Based Discography
- Index of Songs Recorded by Freddie Redd
- Index of Personnel that Recorded with Freddie Redd
- Instrument Abbreviations Used In Freddie Redd Discography
b. May 29, 1928 New York City
d. March 17, 2021 New York City
Freddie Redd is perhaps best known for his association with Jack Gelber’s groundbreaking 1959 off-Broadway play “The Connection”. Redd is perhaps least known as an active jazz musician for the following 60 years of his long life. For, he never sought publicity, traveled frequently, and, not favoring the constrictions of the recording studio, did not leave a long discography of commercial recordings.
In life, Freddie Redd was a free spirit, and as a musician he possessed an individual sound. His artistry conveyed a story-telling facility, whether in his unique body of compositions or his expressive performance style at the piano. As he came of age is the bebop era, Redd’s sensibility was informed by the youthful excitement he felt with those innovations. Like Monk, Herbie Nichols, Gigi Gryce, or Bud Powell, to name a few, his music at times takes an angular or dissonant turn, only to be grounded, in his essence, with a softer personal lyricism and sensitivity that is all his own.
Redd served in the armed forces in the post World War II years and played in musical groups in the service while in Korea. Back home in 1949, he immersed himself in the New York bebop scene. As the 1950’s ensued, like many jazz musicians he also played in rhythm and blues bands, with Red Prysock and Cootie Williams among others. By the mid-1950’s he was making a jazz name for himself, played on various records (his composition for Joe Roland, “Stairway To The Steinway”, was anthologized), and was hired with other American greats by Rolf Ericson for a legendary lengthy tour of Sweden in 1956. Back in the States, he spent time with Charles Mingus and also in the cross cultural Village scene with painters and theater folk.
The Connection emerged from this scene. Gelber’s verite play observes addicts waiting for the connection to arrive to their loft, and some of whom are jazz musicians who rehearse while waiting. The play was an underground hit, and Redd’s score created the perfect atmosphere for the production, while the music struck a responsive chord with a wider audience. Blue Note Records signed Redd to produce an album of tunes from the show, and followed up with a second recording, Shades Of Redd, even more accomplished, in my view. Redd recorded a third album with Blue Note, but due to differences he had with producer Alfred Lion, it was not released for almost 30 years.
As time went on, Redd himself released little music, and his individual spirit led him on many travels, throughout Europe, and also California, staying places for a few years and then moving on. In recent years he was back in the United States, and performed at times at Small’s night club in New York City. In the early 2010’s Redd moved to the Baltimore/Washington DC area, where young musicians such as Brad Linde took him under their wing, and vice-versa. Redd then came back to New York, where Chris Byars worked with Redd, writing new arrangements of his tunes, and setting up gigs and recording sessions for him with Steeplechase.
Freddie Redd passed away at the age of 92.
Note: Many discographies and other sources list Freddie Redd as the pianist on numerous Tiny Grimes record sessions from the early 1950’s. The latest perceived wisdom is that he does not appear on many of those sessions. Therefore I omit those sessions where it is now believed that he does not participate. I include only those few where it is more possible that he does appear.
General notes as to my presentation style:
Under “location”, the default presumption is New York City, so if no city is mentioned it should be New York. However, in the few instances where the location is unknown, location is left blank also for that reason.
I’ve aimed to include all original and early releases, as well as all common US reissues over the years. I also include foreign issues that are in my collection or that I’ve seen in other archives. However, I do not intend or presume to include a comprehensive list of all issues that may be prevalent worldwide in this internet age.
Where known, I include the release date of the recording, with the exception that if the original release is fairly contemporaneous with the session, it is not included. The few instances where I cannot ascertain the date of a release, there, too, the date is left blank.