With sights set firmly set upon the blues, this is bedrock Red Garland, aimed squarely down the middle of his most fertile period. Not everything here is a blues, but they might as well be, given the sameness of mood and approach in this selection of small-group blowing sessions. Wherever you go on Red's Blues, you can't miss Garland's distinctive block chords and light-handed right-handed bop patterns recorded in the soft-focused Van Gelder studio manner, all of which jazz fans would hear constantly down the road in the '60s. And not only that, almost all of the tunes are in the keys of B flat or C, which could make this disc useful for background if not extended listening. Nevertheless, the personnel is often stellar; John Coltrane and Donald Byrd turn up on "Birks' Works," and Arnett Cobb saunters through "Black Velvet" (better known as "Don'Cha Go Way Mad"), Coleman Hawkins is in fine funky form on "Red Beans," and Ray Barretto's congas light up one of the few jazz compositions ever named after a critic ("Ralph J. Gleason Blues"). The 75-minute disc, all of whose contents have been issued on CD before, opens with a long, majestic Garland meditation on "See See Rider" -- and that pretty much sets the tone.
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AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell