Harold Arlen's "My Shining Hour" seemed a particularly apt choice when a quartet led by drummer-turned-vibist Chuck Redd performed it at Blues Alley Monday night. The club, after all, was jammed with friends and family, all eager to hear Redd in a setting quite different from that of his customary slot playing drums behind guitarist Charlie Byrd. And in no time at all, Redd did himself proud.
In fact, it was during the Arlen tune, the second piece of the evening, that Redd really caught his stride. As he moved into an unusually swift series of percussive, blues-tinged choruses (shared and to some extent echoed by pianist John Coliani), it became obvious that Redd has invested a lot of time in playing the instrument and takes it seriously. On the fast tunes, he often unfurled fluid, swinging improvisations, showing a flair for creating both sunny and earthy moods, while his approach to ballads was warmly lyrical and laced with vibrato.
It didn't hurt, of course, that some of Redd's friends included the seasoned musicians who shared the stage with him. He joined Coliani on a hand-in-glove duet at one point, and drew considerable support and inspiration from bassist Paul Langosch and drummer Victor Lewis as well.