Vi Redd (as, vcl), Carmell Jones (tp), Russ Freeman (p), Roy Ayers (vib), Herb Ellis (g), Leroy Vinnegar, Bob Whitlock (b), Richie Goldberg (d)
Reference: FSRCD 1671
Bar code: 8427328616713
Vi Redd (1928 -) began singing in church at the age of five and, after studying piano for a while, went on to blow a C Melody saxophone that her great-aunt Alma Hightower, a noted music teacher, had given her at 10 years old, while she was still in high school.
In 1948, she started performing on neighborhood sessions while continuing to study music and making social science her major. In 1954 after she graduated from the L.A. State College, she played and sang with small local bands, such as the Dick Hart orchestra, among others. At the same time, she discovered the obstacles that explained the scarcity of jazzwomen. “I can’t see any advantages for a girl musician. I found nothing but disadvantages,” explained Vi. In 1957, she decided to gave up music and only came back to jazz after three years as a county social worker.
From March 1962, Vi began playing a regular Monday night gig at the Red Carpet Room in Los Angeles. What immediately stood out about her was that few musicians had a more Bird-like sound or a more grounded blues feel than her. In addition to her skills on the saxophone, she was a singer with warm, gospel and blues timbre.
Vi's unique sound quickly made her the talk of the town, leading to the recording of her debut album, 'Bird Call,' showcasing her soulful playing and singing backed by two groups of prominent jazz musicians. The initial lineup features trumpeter Carmell Jones and vibraphonist Roy Ayers, while the second group includes guitarist Herb Ellis. Both rhythm sections are anchored by pianist Russ Freeman and Vi's spouse Richie Goldberg on drums. On double bass, Leroy Vinnegar and Bob Whitlock provide the steady groove. The album, which was produced with the assistance of critic and producer Leonard Feather, received critical acclaim upon its release on the United Artists label.
After the success of 'Bird Call', in 1963 Vi Redd released a second album titled "Lady Soul" under Atlantic Records. Her name quickly became well-known due to frequent appearances at jazz festivals throughout the US and internationally as a soloist with Count Basie's orchestra, which toured Europe and Africa. She also played in various clubs from Copenhagen to Tokyo.
Unfortunately, Miss Redd's reputation might have been more in keeping with her talent if the only two albums she made as a leader hadn't been taken off the market for years. Despite facing obstacles and being temporarily out of the picture for various periods of time, Vi Redd persevered and continued to pave the way for many other talented women of jazz throughout her career.