Your more or less faithful correspondent is working pretty much full tilt on an essay to accompany the reissue of an important Red Garland album. In the course of researching the piece, I ran across an article I wrote about the pianist for Texas Monthly in 1977. It included Garland’s story about his first job with a name band. Not long out of the Army, in 1946 he was back in his hometown, Dallas, and sat in with the great trumpeter and singer Hot Lips Page. Page’s band was short a pianist, but Garland didn’t realize that he had just played an audition. He went home and went to bed.
About five the morning here comes a knock at the door–boom, boom, boom, boom–and my mother says, “What have you done, Little William, must be the police, you must have done something wrong.” We opened the door and there were Hot Lips Page and Buster Smith. Lips said, “You the guy who sat in with me tonight? Well, I need you, man. Come on, throw somethin’ in a bag and let’s go.” That was it. That was the beginning of life on the road.
The best-known episode of that life was Garland’s central role in the career of Miles Davis. The Texas Monthly piece about Garland is in Jazz Matters: Reflections on the Music and Some of its Makers.