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Ugly Beauty: The Month In Jazz – September 2019

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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. But he died in 1977, and doesn’t have the posthumous profile of Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Art Tatum, or other well-known pianists of the bop era. He couldn’t read music, but he had a prodigious memory for it; there was a story of him attending a classical concert and returning home to his apartment to play much of what he’d heard from memory. He appeared on The Tonight Show many times, and was reportedly Johnny Carson’s favorite jazz musician.

Garner’s style was extremely florid and romantic, swirling jazz, classical, and old-timey music into a style that encompassed the entire keyboard and almost made backing musicians redundant. In the early 1960s, he formed his own label, Octave, and the first four (of twelve) albums released on that imprint are being reissued by Mack Avenue: 1961’s Dreamstreet and Closeup In Swing, 1962’s One World Concert, and 1963’s A New Kind Of Love. The first three are performed with his trio of bassist Eddie Calhoun and drummer Kelly Martin, while the fourth is a movie soundtrack featuring Garner and a 35-piece orchestra. One World Concert, recorded at the World’s Fair in Seattle, is particularly explosive; check out this version of “Movin’ Blues”:


Read the full piece from: Stereogum

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Erroll Garner