Two original albums on one CD
## 1- 9 - Magician - 1974
## 10 - 22 Gershwin And Kern - 1976
Two of Errol Garner's last albums, Magician and Gershwin and Kern, are reissued on this single CD. The pianist, heading trios or quartets, is in typically whimsical and hard-swinging form; he never did decline on record. The former session includes several of his originals plus versions of "Close to You" and "Watch What Happens" that manage to uplift those pop tunes; the latter date has consistently superior material. Garner's very spontaneous playing is as usual both unpredictable and quite accessible and these unedited performances were all first takes. No one ever really sounded like Erroll Garner and this highly enjoyable set of formerly rare material gives one a good example of his magical music.
All Music Guide
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"Garner's exuberance breathes new life into everything he touches... . Nobody will replace him or erase the distinctive mark he has made on American music." - Leonard Feather American songwriters are forever blessed to have had Erroll Garner touch their creations. Everything sparkled at his hands because his genius renewed itself at every turn. He truly sounded as if playing the piano and making music were the most joyous activities imaginable.
The two albums collected here (the latest in Telarc's continuing series celebrating this American original) were recorded in the 1970s. Whether playing vintage American song, popular hits of the day, or his own diverse and wonderful compositions, Erroll Garner created with a spirit that is still unmatched and truly timeless. He won a huge audience throughout the world simply by being himself and playing that on the piano. These performance were, as always, complete unedited takes. That's the way Erroll always worked (played), because ideas seemed to rush out of him seamless, and fully formed. You simply can't imagine these improvisations any other way.
Gershwin and Kern is Garner's only "composers" album. Start at the beginning with Strike Up the Band. An already spirited tune, it becomes a breathtaking revelation, since Erroll is, as pianist Jimmy Rowles long ago suggested, an orchestra unto himself. It's not just anothertune but a great Gershwin song that is transformed into a Gershwin-Garner tune. George Wein, in his original notes to the Gershwin-Kern album, said, "Garner epitomizes all that makes jazz the great music of our age." We know these songs, yet it is as if we truly rediscover them - and more - when we listen to Erroll Garner. Every one of the tunes by these two essential songsmiths is minted anew every time, and then for all time.
As a bonus, this disc includes a rare performance that did not grace the original LP version. In slightly more than a minute, Erroll lets loose with an infectiously wacky Nice Work If You Can Get It, complete with what Martha Glaser has called "Garnerese" - delightful vocal antics that complement his joyous piano. Erroll breaks up even himself, and us, too.
Magician, first released in 1974, finds Erroll sparking two new cohorts - Grady Tate and Bob Granshaw - to the heights of their creative powers. He in turn is inspired to new and dazzling impro-visational excursions. As Dan Morgenstern noted at the time, "He'll take you far out, show you places you've never been to, but will always bring you back home." This is magic that never fails to have a hold on us, because it combines ever-youthful enthusiasm with the brilliant wit and taste of a master.
This time the breadth of Garner's talent is further revealed in his own individual compositions. Garner heard a lot, and it shows up in his playing and writing. Here there's a rousing gospel-inspired One Good Turn, complete with organ and tambourine; the romantic Nightwind, a lovely ballad in the "Misty" mood; a percussive Latin-flavored Mucho Gusto that swings hard and fast; and It Gets Better Every Time, a blues, whose melodic richness and striking intensity get better with every phrase.
Great jazz artists can elevate pop songs to new and brilliant levels, as witness Garner's extraordinary transformations of Close to You and Watch What Happens (a title which, as Morgenstern wrote in the original notes, "spells out the theme of any Garner performance"). Erroll, with his rich imagination and playful sense of adventure, brings these songs into his own world; they emerge altogether different. The artist has made you forget for a time that these are widely performed and possibly overexposed songs from the pop culture. They are now Erroll Garner creations.
Erroll Garner changed all the music he ever played into his personal expressions. And he changed people too, because anyone who's ever heard or seen him comes to the musical experience in a new way, fresh with the vitality of spontaneous performance and the glow of unfettered joy.
- Donald Elfman
Erroll Garner (1923-1977)
Pittsburgh-born Erroll Garner played piano from the age of three. His wide-ranging career took him from riverboats on the Allegheny to the leading concert halls of North and South America, Europe, and the Far East. Hailed universally as an "original" and a true innovator, he is one of the most imitated pianists in contemporary music, Garner's improvisations won many awards, including the French Academy of Arts' Grand Prix du Disque, and his fabled extemporized recording sessions have produced a body of lasting works.
Garner was an enormously prolific composer. There are hundreds of compositions to his credit, including of course Misty and Dreamy, Solitaire, and Other Voices. In this collection his own works range from blues to ballad to Latin-tinged and up-tempo compositions.
Erroll Garner's untimely death at the age of fifty-three, on January 2, 1977, was a cataclysmic blow to his many friends and listeners, and to the world of music. But his work continues to live - in his recordings and compositions. Posthumous honors and memorials continue, worldwide, and retrospectives of his work have been presented in concert. As Erroll himself said, only a few hours before his sudden death, "only the tip of the iceberg is showing; I have a head full of music. Wait till you hear it." We are fortunate to have this collection.
This package of two albums is the second in a series of Garner's recordings circa 1950-1973 to be issued by Telarc. Recorded originally in stereo on Garner's own Octave Records label, this is the first time this compiling islavailable on one digital compact disc. The extra audio dimension which this digital version brings forth is very exciting, giving Garner's full dynamic range an impact which was not totally realized in the earlier LP recordings.
In all, these long-awaited and much requested albums by Garnerites will be a rare collection, both for them and for new listeners.
- Martha Glaser (producer October 1994)