Erroll Garner

Erroll Garner (1921-1977), was an American jazz composer and pianist. His distinctive, melodic style earned him both admiration and acclaim from his peers. Erroll Louis Garner was three years old when he began playing the piano. He began performing on the radio station KDKA, Pittsburgh, with a group called “The Candy Kids”. He was already playing on the Allegheny Riverboats by the time he was eleven. He joined Leroy Brown, a local saxophonist, at the age of 14 in 1937. He was a local player under the tutelage of his older brother, pianist Linton Garner. In 1944, he moved to New York. He briefly worked alongside the bassist Slam Stewart and, though he was not a bebop musician in 1947, he performed with Charlie Parker during the “Cool Blues” session. His inability to read music prevented him from being admitted to the Pittsburgh music union. However, they made him an honorary member in 1956. Garner is known for his exceptional memory for music. After attending the concert of Emil Gilels, Garner returned home to his apartment where he was able to play large portions of the music. His 1955 album Concert by the Sea is a highlight of his work. Ironically, this recording of an Army base performance in Carmel, California with Eddie Calhoun on bass, and Denzil Best drums was made with relatively primitive sound equipment. However, Garner’s creativity and swing made their point in each song. Another notable work is 1951’s Long Ago And Far Away, and 1974’s Magician. Both of these recordings feature Erroll performing a variety of classic songs in his own way. The trio often had Latin percussion added, which was usually a conga. This led to electric results. Erroll’s trademark introductions were easy to recognize. They seemed to be a bit jarring, but then he would quickly get into the tune. His left hand strummed the guitar, which was a crotchet accompaniment to the rich, sounding right hand. This suggests that Erroll was influenced by the rhythm guitar playing of Count Basie’s long-time guitarist, Freddie Green. However, a careful listener could see that his even-four left handed was not the only rhythmic approach he used to play. Text contributed by users is available under Creative Commons By–SA License. It may also be available under GNU FDL.

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