Garry Dial

Garry was born in Montclair, New Jersey. He began piano lessons with Elston Husky at the age 10 Garry’s mother was also a pianist and assisted him in his practice during the first year of school. He was 7 years old when he received his first jazz recording, “The Oscar Peterson Trio”, from his seventh grade teacher. This instilled in him a love for jazz. He played both the standard and light classical music for a few years. His musical journey would be forever changed when he entered St. Benedict’s Prep high school in Newark, New Jersey. Garry’s love for jazz was supported by the priests of St Benedict’s. Garry met Mary Lou Williams, the “Queen Of Jazz”, in church at St Benedict’s. He was offered lessons free of charge and she took him under her wing. Garry continued to go to NY City for the next few years, including Harlem’s 145th Street, where he studied with Mary Lou. He met Bud Powell, Miles, Monk and Cecil Taylor while he was performing a duo concert at Carnegie Hall with Mary Lou. Mary Lou was invited to sing her Mass “Mary Lou’s Mass”, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, NY City. This was through a connection with Garry’s mother. It was the first time a Catholic jazz mass had been performed in a major cathedral. Garry attended the Berklee College Of Music’s Summer Jazz Workshop as a junior high school student. He realized music and jazz was his passion. He graduated from high school and returned to Berklee, where he met Charlie Banacos, his 34-year-old teacher. Kenny Werner, a fellow musician, recommended Garry for a job in Bermuda as The Princess Hotel’s pianist. For three years, he lived on the island alongside his lady and played six nights per week for different singers and shows. Garry moved back to NY in 1976 and began gigging all over the city. He was a member of Charli Persip’s big band. Red Rodney, a bebop trumpet player, found him and asked him to start a band. Garry was a member of various small groups, and he also sang. Frank Sinatra met Garry through the club Jilly’s and asked him to perform at his Waldorf Astoria apartment. Although he didn’t perform with Sinatra live, Garry was often asked to perform at Frank’s private parties. These years Garry was a member of The Gerry Mulligan Band, The Mel Lewis Quartet, and the Joe Morello Quintet that performed at the Blue Note in NY City. Dial’s ability as a pianist earned him an enviable and special place in jazz history. Ruth Ellington was the sister of the great Duke Ellington and enlisted Dial to record the entire Duke Ellington catalogue for their personal library. Many of these compositions could have been lost because they were not recorded or performed. Dial was the primary arranger and composer for the Red Rodney-Ira Sullivan Quintet over ten years in the 1970’s. In 1980, the album “Red Rodney Live at Village Vanguard” was nominated to a Grammy as Best Jazz Group. “Ira Does It All”, featuring Ira Sullivan (1981), was nominated to a Grammy as Best Instrumentalist. The News selected “Sprint” as one of the top 10 productions of 1983.

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