Erroll Garner: Liberation In Swing – The Octave Records Story & Complete Symphony Hall Concert – Octave Music/Mack Avenue Music Group MAC1188LP – Special Centennial Edition 4-LP 180-gram vinyl set with hardcover 60-page book with record sleeves, 152:21 *****:
Mack Avenue Music Group releases a luxurious re-mastered 4-LP boxed set commemorating the centennial of jazz legend, Erroll Garner.
(Erroll Garner – piano, composer; Eddie Calhoun – double bass; Kelly Martin – drums)
A true jazz pioneer, Erroll Garner would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year. The iconic jazz pianist and vocalist hailed from from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His prolific talent was somewhat defined by trademark “gas pedal” style. He would execute crisp rhythms with his left hand, and play the right hand slightly behind. Eventually, Garner sped up the left hand dramatically to catch the rhythm. His unique arrangements combined elements of swing orchestration with bop creativity. He embraced standards, and wrote a quintessential one, “Misty” As a performer, Garner would improvise introductions that would leave his band mates and audience in suspense, trying to guess which subsequent number would emerge. Another facet to his career was the ability to successfully bring jazz to mainstream audiences (certainly helped by his appearances on The Tonight Show).
Mack Avenue Music Group has released a pair of boxed sets that pay homage to this legendary pianist. Liberation In Swing consists of the complete 3-LP Symphony Hall Concert (1959) and a fourth disc with 10 Garner tracks from Octave Records. As the listener takes in the live performance, it is clear why Garner is an elite jazz pianist (like his memorable 1955 Concert By The Sea). Each song is memorable for its style and arrangement. “A Foggy Day In London Town” has a muscular intro before the inevitable transition to swing. He has a innate grasp of jazz roots, shining on “Erroll’s Tune”. There are always moments of inspired phrasing. “Misty” (written by Garner) may be the epitome of accessible jazz piano. His outstanding range is very impressive. The almost-slow ragtime feel of “I Can’t Get Started With You” is hypnotic, with just the right touch of crescendo and improvisational notation. The ever-present complex intros are resonant. “Lover” bristles with grittiness and freneticism. Essentially, Garner reinvents The Great American Songbook.
Each song is a nuanced performance. His bop sensibility permeates “Bernie’s Tune” He adds skillful dramatic accents to “But Not For Me” before taking swing flight. In contrast, “Dreamy” exudes a mellow swirling ambience. A deft sense of timing is part of the Garner technique, especially on “Moments Delight”. Whether it’s Gershwin (“Someone To Watch Over Me”) or Porter (“I Get A Kick Out Of You”), the translation is fresh. The cover of “Red Top” is another certain highlight of this concert. Of course, the “extra’ LP (Octave studio sessions) is also terrific and comes in eye-popping white vinyl.
The audio quality of the re-mastered Symphony Hall Concert (3 discs) and the Octave sessions (oner disc) is excellent. Additionally there is a stunning hard cover book which includes paintings by Garner, photographs and incisive commentary from writers and musicians. The four 12’ vinyl discs are also housed in this book. The centennial releases recognize the dazzling talents of an under appreciated jazz master. As always, the Mack Avenue releases are in cooperation with the Erroll Garner Project. This would make a valuable addition to any jazz collection.
LP 1 (Complete Symphony Hall Concert):
Dancing InThe Dark; My Funny Valentine; But Not For Me; The Nearness Of You; A Foggy Day (In London Town); Gypsy In My Soul; I Didn’t Know What Time It Was; Lover; Last Word
The Song From Moulin Rouge; I Can’t Get Started With You; Back Bay Stride; Gospel Mambo; Shell Game; My Fair Lady Medley: I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face; On The Street Where You Live; I Could Have Danced All Night; Frenesi; Dreamy
Someone to Watch Over Me; I Get A Kick Out Of You; Misty; Indiana (Back Home In Indiana); Moment’s Delight; Bernie’s Tune; Red Top; Will You Still Be Mine; Erroll’s Theme; Kitten On The Keys
LP 4 (Studio):
Octave 103; She Walked On; Paris Mist (trio version); Not So Fast; You And Me; Misty; True Blues; By Chance; Grill On The Hill; Maybe You’re The Only One.
For more information, visit the Erroll Garner website: