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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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ERROLL GARNER

Misty

Living Era CD AJS 2006

 

 


      CD 1

      1. Misty
      2. Somebody Loves Me
      3. Stardust
      4. Indiana
      5. Bird's Nest
      6. Cool Blues
      7. Erroll's Bounce
      8. Blue Lou
      9. Play Piano Play
      10. Blues Garni
      11. Love For Sale
      12. Frankie And Johnny Fantasy
      13. Love Walked In
      14. Red Sails In The Sunset
      15. All The Things You Are
      16. Over The Rainbow
      17. Moonglow
      18. She's Funny That Way
      19. I'm Confessin'
      20. Stormy Weather
      21. Margie
      22. My Heart Stood Still
      23. When You're Smiling
      24. How High The Moon
      CD 2

      1. Lover
      2. Laura
      3. The Way You Look Tonight
      4. I Cover The Waterfront
      5. Penthouse Serenade
      6. Honeysuckle Rose
      7. Body And Soul
      8. I'm In The Mood For Love
      9. Fine And Dandy
      10. Sophisticated Lady
      11. Summertime
      12. Am I Blue?
      13. Out Of Nowhere
      14. St Louis Blues
      15. Easy To Love
      16. Lullaby Of Birdland
      17. Oh, Lady Be Good
      18. I'll Remember April
      19. Autumn Leaves
      20. It's All Right With Me
      21. April In Paris
      22. Where or When

      Erroll Garner is possibly one of the most imitated but also most underrated of all jazz pianists. His indelible style has been imitated (often jokingly) by all kinds of jazzmen – from Dudley Moore to Benny Green - yet his unique achievement is in danger of being neglected. Perhaps his very uniqueness works against him, or perhaps it’s the fact that he became very popular – something which many jazz critics can’t abide, because they hate music to be too accessible.

      Certainly Garner’s playing was accessible, as this well-filled double CD shows. However complex his solos may be, you can still sense the melody behind them. In addition, he could swing like the clappers at fast tempos and he produced some lovely sounds on slow ballads, where his caressing style was fluid and highly decorative. Listen, for example to Laura, with its limpid use of the whole keyboard, its flowery runs and its rhapsodic beauty.

      Contrast this with the tearaway brilliance of Where or When, which shuffles along unstoppably at a demanding tempo, displaying an awesome technique and rhythmic daring which few other pianists could ever match. This last track comes from Garner’s most brilliant album – 1955’s Concert by the Sea, which provides the final five tracks on this collection. I’ll Remember April illustrates Erroll’s liking for enigmatic introductions that give you absolutely no idea what the song is going to be – and which yet somehow lead inevitably into the number that follows.

      The other tracks on the album come from earlier in Erroll’s career, opening with Misty, his best-known composition. We also get to hear two recordings he made with Charlie Parker in 1947 – Bird’s Nest and Cool Blues – where he was a capable colleague for the Bird. Even better is the superbly relaxed nine-minute Blue Lou from the same year’s "Just Jazz" concert with Wardell Gray. Other early tracks show how Erroll came out of the stride tradition, although his left hand often played four-in-a-bar chords slightly in conflict with what the right hand was doing. This gave his playing a swaying feeling which added to the swing.

      This collection offers more than two-and-a-half hours of music and makes an excellent introduction to Garner’s early work. Let us hope it makes listeners eager to explore the rest of his output.


      Tony Augarde



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