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Legendary jazz pianist dies

April
23
1984

On this day in 1984, jazz pianist William M. (Red) Garland died in Dallas, where he had been born in 1923. Garland played the clarinet and alto saxophone as a child and learned piano from other servicemen at Fort Huachuca, Sierra Vista, Arizona. After leaving the army in 1944 he joined a band led by Henry (Buster) Smith, and by 1946 was playing in nightclubs in New York City. He was part of one of the most exciting periods of jazz evolution. Much of the 1950s jazz now regarded as classic was built upon Garland's characteristic block chords. He achieved his greatest fame as a member of Miles Davis's Quintet from 1955 to 1958. After leaving that group, Garland started his own trio. He returned to Dallas in 1965 because of his mother's illness and made few public appearances until the late 1970s, when he performed several times in New York and cut a new album. His last performance was at the Park Central Jazz Festival in Dallas in 1981.

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