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“Soul Junction” was recorded on November 15, 1957,
by the Red Garland Quintet. This album was firmly rooted
in the Hard-Bop tradition of the day, yet strongly influenced
by the Blues. This was evident when hearing the
15-minute title cut, credited to Garland (1923-1984).
The other four tracks include the well-known,
“Woody ‘N You” by Dizzy Gillespie, “Birk’s Works,” also by
Gillespie, the Ben Webster/Duke Ellington penned ballad,
“I’ve Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good),” and the upbeat
“Hallelujah” from Vincent Youmans, which was taken at
a very fast tempo.

All five of these tunes provided an ample opportunity
for Garland and his four bandmates to demonstrate their
considerable skills. John Coltrane was on tenor saxophone
at this session. By then, he’d logged many hours with
Garland, as a part of Miles Davis’ first great quintet,
and had also headlined some recordings of his own. All of
these songs featured Coltrane’s unique ability to break
down chords and render strikingly original solos, showing
that he’d “arrived” as a player.

Donald Byrd’s full, crisp tone on trumpet was also a strong
component of these recordings, with drummer Arthur Taylor
and bassist George Joyner ideally rounding out the
rhythm section. This Rudy Van Gelder session would also
yield another disc, “All Morning Long,” as well as part of
“High Pressure,” an album recorded for the Prestige label.
Otherwise, Garland primarily recorded as the leader of
his eponymous trio.

It’s interesting to hear a musician like Garland leading
a session versus performing as a sideman, as he had
with Miles Davis. This record illustrated his solid
stewardship, and resulted in a 43-minute disc that any
Jazzman could point to with pride. I’m looking forward
to hearing the other fruits of this session.

Released under the Prestige label, this recording was
digitally remastered by Phil De Lancie in 1990. It sounds
great and is highly recommended.