I’m very happy to talk about an incredible piece of jazz history. It is the only known document of an unreleased album by the celebrated musician. Best known for composing the music for the 1959 stage production The Connection (as well as its subsequent 1961 film adaptation), Freddie Redd was a versatile composer/piano player who collaborated with some of the greatest jazz musicians of his time.
The year 1961 was pivotal for the musician, which was marked by a dispute between Redd and Blue Note owner Alfred Lion. After the release of the soundtrack for The Connection and the studio album Shades of Redd, a third album he recorded for the jazz imprint, Redd’s Blues, was shelved. This acetate, which was produced in early 1962 at Associated Recording Studios – just 15 blocks from Blue Note, was never released. Associated was an independent recording studio that catered to musicians and anyone else who had a recording need. (Miles Davis’ Tempest Fugit was also recorded there for Blue Note.) It is likely that Redd produced it himself as a demo and submitted it to Blue Note. However, his ongoing dispute with Lion impacted his relationship with the imprint – and he never recorded for them again. Though committed to acetate in 1962 and featuring such heavyweights as tenor sax player Clifford Jordan and double-bassist Teddy Smith, the completed album was never released by any label.
Redd left the U.S. in 1962 for an extended stay in Europe. His only documented appearance between 1961 and 1970 was playing organ on “Carolina in My Mind,” a James Taylor single released in 1968. This would make the acetate Redd’s last known unreleased U.S. recording. Three tracks from the disc: “Emily (Reno),” “After the Show,” and “Bleeker Street Blues” would later appear in different versions on Lonely City, Redd’s 1989 album from Uptown Records. However, none of the songs on this long-lost acetate have ever had a commercial release – making this a true one-of-a-kind collectible. It’s extreme rarity and great historical significance far outweigh its playability, a factor that only adds to its intriguing story.