Great good luck, even in this news weary day, that Erroll Garner remains the personification of that mythical vaudeville buoyancy that can hold us in its sway, lifting us from all our daily unrest. We're fortunate to be in a time when we can re-explore, rediscover and perhaps even re-imagine Garner's continued impact and influence.
Welcome, then, That's My Kick, the latest high-powered release from Mack Avenue Records' acclaimed twelve disc series: Erroll Garner Octave Remastered Series. And by either one of history's odd smirks or our (again) great good luck, this also one of Garner's freest sessions, featuring the pianist firing on all his inspired compositional cylinders.
Grunting from sheer joy and calling out chords seemingly on the cool fly, the bounce-a-beat title track kicking off That's My Kick serves as a two minute and fifty-one second harbinger of all that Garner, either by grand design or virtuoso impulse, has up his sleeve, while jiving with equally kickish bassist Milt Hinton, guitarist Art Ryerson, drummer George Jenkins and percussionist Johnny Pacheco.
There's a hey-just-play abandon throughout That's My Kick that's impossible not to be captured by. Sure, Garner always sounds like this; that's the magic. Or maybe it's the plangent mix. Who knows and who cares when "The Shadow of Your Smile," "Like It Is," and "It Ain't Necessarily So" leap from the man's understanding of universal joy and his playersall of the above along with Herbert Lovelle on drums, Jose Mangual playing congas, and guitarist Wally Richardsonare all sworn to the same mission.
Then there's "Autumn Leaves," "Blue Moon," and romping, conga grooved "More." No fuss, no muss, just an exuberance for the music. The disc closes with four-out-of-five Garner originals, most notably the day and night tinctured "Gaslight." With "Afinidad," Garner's left hand is in constant bossa nova, the band falling like a samba cloud around him while his right hand dances orchestrally roadhouse right thru the center. "She Walked On" is cut from the same cloth as "Afinidad," but this time in a half time swing blues, just leaves us with a smile. How the hell do you not like that?
That’s My Kick; The Shadow Of Your Smile; Like It Is; It Ain’t Necessarily So; Autumn Leaves; Blue Moon; More;
Gaslight; Nervous Waltz; Passing Through; Afinidad; She Walked On.
Erroll Garner: piano; Milt Hinton: bass; Herbert Lovelle: drums (2-10); George Jenkins: drums (1, 11, 12);
José Mangual; congas (2-10); Johnny Pacheco: congas (1, 11, 12); Wally Richardson: guitar (2-10);
Art Ryerson; guitar (1, 11, 12).