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Mack Avenue Music Group and Octave Music proudly announce the Octave Remastered Series, a historic year-long, 12-album project featuring newly restored and expanded editions of classic Erroll Garner releases from the 1960s and 1970s. Each album contains a newly discovered, unreleased bonus track. Utilizing the Plangent Process playback system for analog tape, these new transfers were remastered and, when needed, remixed by the Grammy® winning Garner team.
The Octave Remastered Series continues Garner’s resurgence, following his return to the top of the Billboard Jazz chart with 2015’s Grammy-nominated TheComplete Concert by the Sea, which was the first release from the Erroll Garner Jazz Project—a collective formed to curate Garner’s monumental archive. The Garner Jazz Project followed The Complete Concert by the Seawith the critically acclaimed, newly unearthed studio record Ready Take One in 2016, and the midnight concert album Nightconcert, which reached #1 on the iTunes and Amazon jazz charts upon its release in 2018.
The first four titles in the new series – Dreamstreet, Closeup in Swing, One World Concert, and A New Kind of Love–will be released simultaneously on September 27. The subsequent series rollout features one album per month – A Night at the Movies, Campus Concert, That’s My Kick, Up in Erroll’s Room, Feeling is Believing, Gemini, Magician, and Gershwin & Kern – leading up to the kickoff of Garner’s centennial year celebration, beginning in June 2020 and concluding on his 100th birthday, June 15, 2021.
The master tapes for all 12 albums in the series were transferred and restored using the Plangent playback system. Employing a wideband tape head, preamp and DSP package to capture and track the original recorder’s ultrasonic bias remnant, the Plangent Process removes the wow and flutter and FM/IM distortion from the recorded audio. This returns the listener to the original session experience, bringing to life Garner’s incomparable performances of his own compositions, as well as classic works from the jazz canon.
During his 40-year career, Garner published more than 200 compositions, the most famous of which, “Misty,” was ranked by ASCAP as the twelfth most popular song of the 20th century. Since 1954 no other song has been recorded by more jazz artists except Duke Ellington’s “Satin Doll.” In 1971, “Misty” was the centerpiece of jazz aficionado Clint Eastwood’s film Play Misty For Me. It has also been featured in numerous television shows (Cheers, Saturday Night Live, Magnum PI, The Muppet Show) and films(Oscar®-nominated Silver Linings Playbook). A previously unreleased studio performance of “Misty” is included in the Octave Remastered Series, on the Gemini album.
The newly minted bonus tracks in the series are all Garner originals, eight of the 12 being previously unreleased compositions. “It’s truly shocking, and one of the greatest joys of this work, to find these fully realized tunes just sitting there on tape,” says Peter Lockhart, senior producer of the Octave Remastered Series.
One of the most prolific composers and performers in the history of jazz, as well as a courageous advocate for African-American empowerment and artistic freedom, Garner is a legend among jazz pianists. His unique approach melds bebop and swing influences into a unique, unrivaled mastery.
Asked to define his musical genius, the late pianist Geri Allen, who was director of the jazz program in Garner’s hometown at the University of Pittsburgh, best captured the essence of Garner’s utterly original vision. “Erroll Garner personifies the joy of fearless virtuosity and exploration. His playing celebrated the greatest swinging big bands through an innovative and impossible pianism,” she explains. “Singular yet all embracing, Garner blurred the line between great art and popular art, and he was a staunch journeyman of the blues and his Pittsburgh legacy.”
In addition to his brilliant keyboard artistry, Garner is also a notable figure in popular music history for the hard-won precedents he set for artistic freedom that still stand today. In 1959, because he had rights of approval on what was released, Garner successfully sued Columbia Records to remove an album they had released without his permission.
His victory was the first of its kind for any American artist in the music industry. Garner and his manager, Martha Glaser, subsequently founded and launched Octave Records, whose 12 releases make up the Octave Remastered Series.
Erroll Garner was a rare musician who was equally adored and respected by peers and devoted fans alike. He and his art were best summed up by the late trumpeter Clark Terry: “The man was complete. He could do it all.”
However, you have to dial back to 1960 to find the major precedent: when star jazz pianist Erroll Garner sued Columbia Records for breaking his contract — and won after a nearly three-year battle in a New York Supreme Court decision.
It was a landmark case that has been largely forgotten. “The Erroll Garner story is an important one,” says UCLA history professor and author Robin D.G. Kelley. “The context is the ‘50s at the height of Garner’s power. He was winning DownBeat polls and other international prizes. He was at the top of his game, and his manager, Martha Glaser (pictured above, right, with Garner), had worked out a contract with Columbia with an unprecedented clause giving Erroll the right to approve the release of any of his recorded music.”
Erroll Garner, 1964, giving a big Hollywood buildup to "I Found A Million Dollar Baby (At The Five And Ten Cent Store)" (ph) - a song from 1931. It's from his album "A Night At The Movies," my favorite so far from the ongoing Octave Remastered Series of Garner albums. They're being issued one a month through next June. As an album concept, songs from the movies is about as loose as it gets. This one's even looser because some songs, like that last one, actually come from Broadway. A few selections are older than talking pictures, like 1913's "You Made Me Love You," a vehicle for Al Jolson, who did it slower than Erroll Garner does.
But “Misty” was hardly Garner’s only career milestone. In 1947, shortly after leaving his native Pittsburgh for New York, he appeared on early recordings by Charlie Parker. And his 1955 live album, Concert By The Sea, became the first jazz recording to register more than $1 million in sales. He was a virtuosic and talented performer with a lively following of fans and passionate admirers, and his style has been praised, emulated and adored by countless musicians — Geri Allen and Dick Hyman were particularly keen enthusiasts.
This was the third release on Octave Records, which Garner had established with his manager, Martha Glaser. Originally distributed by Philips, it has never had a fully dedicated reissue.
That’s about to change, thanks to the Octave Remastered Series. A joint initiative of Mack Avenue Records and the Erroll Garner Jazz Project, it’s a batch of reissues spanning Garner’s total output on Octave: 12 albums from the 1960s and ‘70s. The first four — along with One World Concert, they include Dreamstreet, Closeup in Swing and A New Kind of Love — land on Sept. 27.
A really cool set of reissues came out this month, too, from a pianist who’s revered in certain circles but whose legacy isn’t what it should be. Erroll Garner was a hugely successful pianist and composer of the standard “Misty”; his 1955 album Concert By The Sea was massive at the time, and was reissued as a three-CD set in 2015.