"I happen to think that Erroll Garner was the greatest popular pianist of our century." —Steve Allen
June 15 would have been the 78th birthday of Erroll Garner, one of the true jazz giants. A technically skilled pianist and a composer with broad appeal, his music was meant for everyone. His impact as a player when he emerged on the jazz scene in the '40s is legendary, and his work as a composer burgeoned after his landmark opus, "Misty," which he wrote in 1954. Now, 22 years after his premature death at the age of 53, Garner's legend continues to live on.
Telarc announces the release of its Erroll Garner 6 CD Set, a collection of immense beauty and intense historical significance, this box set will delight jazz fans and convert those who have never heard the irrepressible and animated Erroll Garner. This is Garner's most treasured music—a total of twelve albums available for the first time as a 6 CD set at a special price.
That's My Kick and Gemini first launched Telarc's Erroll Garner series in August 1994, after the label had acquired Garner's own Octave Records catalog (which featured recordings by the renowned pianist-composer circa 1959-1973). Remastered and available for the first time on CD and as midlines, these twelve albums had been out of print for nearly two decades. With one exception, these were the only recordings by Garner actually recorded in stereo up to that time.
The second release in the series, Gershwin and Kern, is Garner's only "composers" album. Everyone knows "I Got Rhythm" and "Nice Work If You Can Get It," yet it's as if we rediscover them when listening to Garner. Magician finds him sparking two new cohorts—bassist Grady Tate and percussionist Bob Cranshaw—to the heights of their creative powers on an extraordinary set of pop songs and Garner's own compositions.
In Dreamstreet, Garner had unprecedented freedom in the recording studio. He reveled in this atmosphere, as evidenced by this third disc which features "Just One of Those Things," "The Lady is a Tramp," and the "Oklahoma Medley." One World Concert, a cascading and pouncing set of standards (including Garner's impressionistic and moody "Misty"), was recorded in performance at the Seattle World's Fair in 1963.
Now Playing: A Night at the Movies is an imaginative assortment of songs from the motion pictures of the '40s and '50s that Garner (and the world's audiences) grew up watching. Up in Erroll's Room, featuring The Brass Bed, shows Garner at his "dancy" best. The added energy of a brass section, expertly arranged by Don Sebesky, is a special bonus.
Closeup in Swing is a collection of eight standards and two Garner compositions chosen from more than sixty improvisations performed during several evening sessions in July and August of 1961. On A New Kind of Love (Music from the Motion Picture), Garner made his debut as a composer of movie themes and brought his piano artistry into a new dimension within the setting of a thirty-five piece orchestra.
Campus Concert comes from eight tunes recorded live at Purdue University Music Hall in spring of 1964 and captures the special rapport between performer and audience that Garner brought to all his performances. Feeling is Believing, which includes five Garner compositions and several surprising pop selections ("For Once in My Life," "Yesterday," and "Spinning Wheel"), was his first album release of the '70s and again demonstrates that Erroll Garner was unique, fresh, and ever-creative.