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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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ERROLL GARNER

Misty

Le Chant du Monde
274 2458.60

 

 

CD1

1. Somebody Loves Me

2. Memories of You

3. This Can’t Be Love

4. The Man I Love

5. Stormy Weather

6. Ramona

7. I’m Confessin’

8. When You’re Smiling

9. Poor Butterfly

10. Spring is Here

11. Lover

12. Laura

13. The Way You Look Tonight

14. Body and Soul

15. Indiana

16. Honeysuckle Rose

17. I’m in the Mood for Love

18. I Can’t Get Started

19. Play, Piano, Play

20. Undecided

21. Sophisticated Lasdy

22. Ain’t She Sweet

23. Fine and Dandy

24. Robbins’ Nest

25. Please Don’t Talk about Me When I’m Gone

Erroll Garner – Piano

John Levy – Bass (track 1)

George du Hart – Drums (track 1)

Red Callender – Bass (track 2)

Lou Singer – Drums (track 2)

John Simmons – Bass (tracks 3-25)

Alvin Stoller – Drums (tracks 3-5)

Doc West – Drums (tracks 6, 7)

Shadow Wilson – Drums (tracks 8-25)

CD2

1. Summertime

2. I Never Knew

3. Oh, Lady be Good

4. Anything Goes

5. Fancy

6. Dancing Tambourine

7. S’Wonderful

8. Avalon

9. There’s a Small Hotel

10. Misty

11. Rosalie

12. Russian Lullaby

13. Rose Room

14. Some of These Days

15. Time on My Hands

16. Girl of My Dreams

17. Them There Eyes

18. Moonglow

19. Humoresque

Erroll Garner - Piano

John Simmons – Bass (tracks 1-3)

Shadow Wilson – Drums (tracks 1-3)

Wyatt Ruther – Bass (tracks 6-12)

Eugene “Fats” Heard – Drums (tracks 6-12)

Al Hall – Bass (tracks 13-19)

Gordon “Specs” Powell – Drums (tracks 13-19)

CD3

1. My Lonely Heart

2. Passing Through

3. Until the Real Thing Comes Along

4. The Song from Moulin Rouge

5. I Love Paris

6. The Last Time I Saw Paris

7. My Man

8. Paris Bounce

9. La Vie en Rose

10. Left Bank Swing

11. Louise

12. La Petite Mambo

13. Moroccan Quarter

14. Paris Blues

15. When Paris Cries

16. Blue Lou

Erroll Garner – Piano, harpsichord

Al Hall – Bass (tracks1, 2)

Gordon “Specs” Powell – Drums (tracks 1, 2)

Eddie Calhoun – Bass (tracks 4-16)

Kelly Martin – Drums (tracks 4-16)


Erroll Garner was largely self-taught. He had a few lessons but mainly he learnt with his superb ear for music. Being self-taught, Erroll had the benefits and flaws attendant on someone with this background. He made mistakes here and there but he developed his own distinctive style which then became much imitated.

This triple-CD album (part of a new series of “Jazz Characters”) contains a cross-section of Erroll Garner’s work from 1945 to 1959, although there are some important omissions. A truly representative collection would include his classic 1947 recordings with Charlie Parker, some extracts from his thrilling Concert by the Sea (1955), and perhaps some later recordings than 1959. Nevertheless, this album gives a good representation of Garner’s style.

You might say that he began as a fairly conventional jazz pianist, using a lot of single notes with chords scattered within. Later his style was essentially chordal: using thick clusters of notes in his solos and reinforcing them by repetition and the sustain pedal. He used lots of arpeggios and trills, creating an almost orchestral feeling, with plenty of decoration. Robert Doerschuk in his book 88 described the Garner style as “a canny blend of romanticism, fidelity to the melody, and blues”.

Of course, romanticism didn’t necessarily go down well with Garner’s contemporaries, whose methods were often self-indulgent in a different way. Some critics didn’t like it either. But the romanticism went down well with the public, and Erroll became one of the most popular jazz pianists of his time. Personally, I found his playing stimulating and enjoyable, especially when seen live. His cheerful smile and his ebullient personality, perched on a telephone directory to increase his height at the piano, were a visible reflection of his buoyant playing.

One of the most appealing facets of his approach was his often-impenetrable introductions. These often occurred in concert situations although less frequently on record. A good example of this occurs in the track 14 on the first CD, where Erroll plays an enigmatic introduction which unexpectedly leads into Body and Soul. Even when he launches into the tune, it starts like something entirely different from what we know and love. When the first track of the second CD begins, it seems to suggest Frankie and Johnnie but it turns out to be Summertime! Who’d have guessed that the march opening the eighth track of the second CD would turn into Avalon?

Honeysuckle Rose is a compelling example of the Garner left hand, thumping out the beat but possibly behind the beat (or in advance of it?). Another Garneresque feature is his introduction of a powerful counter-melody in the penultimate or last chorus, as in S’Wonderful. This often increases the volume temporarily but dynamic changes give light and shade to the performance, which builds to a climax.

Russian Lullaby is the sole example in this collection of the aberration which led Erroll to add a conga player to his line-up. Garner never needed any help in accentuating the rhythm: he could create enough by himself. This was also generally true for his poor bassists and drummers, who couldn’t be expected to keep up with the mercurial pianist. Occasionally the bass and drums come in just at the wrong time, or play the final beat out of sync with Erroll! A track like Louise with its puzzling introduction and displaced rhythms would make work even harder.

The last CD includes several tracks from Erroll’s two 1958 LPs named Paris Impressions. On two tracks he even used the harpsichord. The inner sleeve shows the cover of the One World Concert LP but there are no tracks from it in this compilation.

Erroll Garner made a popular album called The Most Happy Piano. Erroll’s playing exemplified and exuded happiness – and made many listeners feel very happy, including me.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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