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Erroll Garner: Ready Take One

Dan McClenaghan By

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Erroll Garner (1923-1977) played the piano like all was well with the world, with a flashy and elegant panache. And sometimes that's just what we need. With a swinging style that bubbled up from the stride and ragtime traditions, and nudged into the bop arena, Garner's was an ebullient sound—virtuosic and embellished with ornamental phrasings and splashes of sparkling colors.

So, discovery of new Garner music, of the highest quality, is reason to celebrate.

Ready Take One, is comprised of fourteen previously unreleased tracks recorded late in Garner's career: 1967, 1968 and 1971. The set's title is taken from his manager Martha Glaser's on-mic kick off to rolling the in-studio tape. The consist and confident pianist was largely a one take guy.

Garner's groups were mostly piano trio affairs. He didn't always include a conga player. But when he did, as on Mambo Moves (Mercury Records, 1954), and Plays Gershwin and Kern ( Emarcy Records, 1968), the results were always excellent. Jose Mangual sits in on the conga on Ready Take One, with, again, excellent results, adding texture, depth and a lively pop to the rhythm.

This is an eclectic set list, starting with a Latin-esque Garner-penned blues, "High Wire," to a relaxed, stride-like take on the standard "I'm Confessin' That I Love You," To Bobby Hebb's hugely popular pop hit, "Sunny," a tune that could serve as Garner's theme.

Garner's original, "Wild Times" begins sounding like a stately, deadly serious classical piece, then shifts into a prancing (at a fast clip), happy-go-lucky, in-the-groove workout. "Latin Digs" opens with a nose in the air strut, that becomes a fluid swing across the dance floor.


Then there's "Misty," Garner's most famous tune. Clint Eastwood even made a movie for it: "Play Misty For Me (1971). Garner closes the show with the lush beauty of "Misty" making it obvious, again, why it achieved its almost unparalleled popularity.

It seems that Erroll Garner went a bit out of fashion with the advent of the Bill Evans era of jazz piano trio. Taking into consideration 2016's re-issue of Garner's big hit album, Concert By The Sea (Columbia Records, 1955), with Complete Concert By The Sea (Sony Music), and now with Ready Take One, the spotlight shines anew, very deservedly, on this talented jazz man.

Track Listing: High Wire; I Want To Be Happy; I'm Confessin' (That I Love You); Sunny; Wild Music; Caravan; Back to You; Night And Day; Chase Me; Satin Doll; Latin Digs; Stella By Starlight; Down Wylie Avenue; Misty.

Personnel: Erroll Garner: piano; Jimmie Smith: drums (1-8, 10-14); Ernest McCarty: bass: (1, 2, 5, 6, 11); Ike Isaac: bass (3, 4,7, 8, 10, 12, 13); George Duvivier: bass (9); Larry Gales: bass (14); Jose Magual: conga.

Title: Ready Take One | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Legacy Recordings

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