Erroll Garner imperturbably played more or less the same piano style throughout his career, blending jazz and pop with a bounce and grin. When he rocks a tempo hard, as on this version of “Confessin,’” he nearly sounds the second coming of Fats Waller, completely free from the bebop influence felt by many of Garner’s piano contemporaries.
These 1949–50 sessions coincided with Garner’s engagements at such famous Harlem showplaces as the Three Deuces, the Apollo Theatre, and Birdland, featuring the unparalleled pianist with two different trios. The original release included Garner’s own “Turquoise” and “Impressions” along with Ravel’s “Pavanne,” Debussy’s “Reverie,” and Basie’s “Blue and Sentimental.”
Garner had one of the greatest right hands in jazz history, and each track unleashes stream after stream of pure flowing melody with a touch so sparkling it even polishes more moody pieces such as “Turquoise” and “Impressions” to a lustrous glow. “Confessin’” is an old-time ragtimey hoot: You can almost listen to the bass like it’s a tuba while Garner rolls the piano keys like he’s strummin’ on the ol’ banjo.
Four bonus tracks include a beautiful “Serenade in Blue” and an amazing nine-minute improvisation on his original “Perpetual Emotion” that should come bearing a “Genius at Work” placard.
The Greatest Garner represented the end of an era for Garner, who signed with Columbia Records in 1950 and subsequently recorded one of the biggest hit songs (“Misty”) and albums ( Concert by the Sea ) in jazz history.
Track Listing: The Way You Look Tonight; Turquoise; Pavanne; Impressions; Confessin'; I May Be Wrong; Skylark; Summertime; Flamingo; Reverie; Blue and Sentimental; I Can't Give You Anything But Love; Perpetual Emotion; Trees; Lullaby of the Leaves; Serenade in Blue
Personnel: Erroll Garner, piano, with John Simmons (bass) and Harold Wing (drums); and with Leonard Gaskin (bass) and Charlie Smith (drums).
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.