Born: May 29, 1928 in New York, NY
Styles: Hard Bop, Jazz Instrument, Piano Jazz
Instruments: Composer, Piano
A classic bop pianist and a composer of haunting melodies, Freddie Redd has had an episodic career, with high points followed by periods in which he maintained a low profile. After a period in the Army (1946-1949), Redd worked with drummer Johnny Mills and then in New York played with Tiny Grimes (with whom he recorded), Cootie Williams, Oscar Pettiford, and the Jive Bombers. Redd, who appeared with both jazz and early R&B groups, recorded his debut as a leader for Prestige in 1955 (reissued in the OJC series), appeared on dates led by Gene Ammons and Art Farmer, and toured Sweden in 1956 with Ernestine Anderson and Rolf Ericson, cutting an obscure trio set in Sweden for the Metronome label. When he returned to the U.S., Redd settled for a time in San Francisco, where he worked as the house pianist at Bop City and recorded for Riverside. He found his greatest fame when he wrote the music for the play The Connection. He acted and played in the landmark show in New York, London, and Paris, was in the film, and recorded the music for Blue Note, the first of his three sessions for the label (all of which were reissued in a Mosaic limited-edition box set containing either two CDs or three LPs). Unfortunately, there were no encore writing assignments, and Redd soon moved to Europe, where he performed regularly but became quite obscure in the U.S. In 1974 he moved to Los Angeles, but despite worthy sessions for Interplay (1977), Uptown (1985), Triloka (1988), and Milestone (1990), Freddie Redd has remained an underrated great, still playing into his eighties during the 21st century without gaining the level of recognition he most certainly deserves.
- Scott Yanow (All Music Guide)