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Chuck Redd: Stomp, Look and Listen

Chuck Redd, a nonpareil drummer whose ebullient time keeping has buoyed a host of stars ranging from Mel TormŽ to Dizzy Gillespie, makes his leader debut not on drums, but on vibes! “The first time I was attracted to vibes,” recalls the D.C. denizen, “was after hearing Milt Jackson of the Modern Jazz Quartet on Blues on Bach in a high school music appreciation class-that did it!” This, then, is not a sudden conversion. Indeed, Redd has been leading his own vibes-fronted group for some six years.

Redd’s lineup of tunes and talents is first-rate. Clarinetist Ken Peplowski, pianists Tommy Flanagan and Robert Redd (Chuck’s brother), bassist Paul Langosch, drummer Victor Lewis and cameo guest guitarist Charlie Byrd simmer with inspired simpatico. Opening with a bang, Ellington’s “Stomp, Look and Listen” features a nimble clarinet-and-vibes lead and nifty solos. For contrast, there’s a gorgeous treatment of Rodgers and Hart’s “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” and an Afro-Cubanized limning of Wes Montgomery’s “West Coast Blues.” As annotator Loren Schoenberg points out, this is a delightful throwback to a time when the tune was the thing. yet, with its perfectly balanced swing-cum-bop approach, Redd and company hit grooves whose foot-tapping insouciance and joie de vivre are also timeless. Yeah!

Originally Published