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God's Gift of Music: Jazz Pianist/Composer Erroll Garner

Erroll Garner
Erroll Garner

Who is Erroll Garner?

"Pittsburgh born Jazz pianist, prolific composer, concert hall artist, and recording star. Garner was one of the most well known and influential pianists in the world during his lifetime. Surrounded by a musical family, Garner was by all accounts self-taught, began playing at the age of three and was performing professionally by the age of seven. Throughout his career Garner developed a distinctive and original piano style often compared with Art Tatum, Fats Waller, as well as Claude Debussy.

Garner released music on over 40 labels, received multiple Grammy nominations, and recorded one of the greatest selling jazz albums of all time, Concert By The Sea. His published catalog contains nearly 200 compositions including “Misty”, which was named #15 on ASCAP’s list of the top songs of the 20th century. He scored for ballet, film, television, and orchestra. One of the most televised Jazz artists of his era, Garner appeared on TV shows all over the world, including: Ed Sullivan, Dick Cavitt, Steve Allen, Johnny Carson, and many others. His prolific career began on Allegheny riverboats and spanned from the clubs of 52nd street to the top concert halls of the world.

Erroll Garner’s musical and cultural legacy is perhaps stronger today than at any point since his untimely passing in 1977, when Erroll lost his battle with lung cancer at the age of 55. Thanks to the renewed efforts of Octave Music—the successor and namesake of the company Garner formed with his manager Martha Glaser in 1952— and it’s Erroll Garner Project, his music is once again finding fresh audiences through a series of new record releases, multimedia performances, and creative partnerships." from

Erroll Garner plays Misty

Video from Joris Holderbeke

"Erroll Garner trio plays Misty in the old BRT studio in Brussels, Belgium.' from video introduction

35 MINUTES of Erroll Garner LIVE in '64!

Video from Melonhead622

The Radical Legacy of Erroll Garner

"As we enter the pianist’s centennial year, a reissue series—and the history behind it—sheds new light on a jazz giant

August 2020

If jazz polls don’t become collateral damage of COVID-19, Erroll Garner: The Octave Remastered Series (Mack Avenue) is the odds-on favorite for best reissue of 2020. It’s a 12-CD release, one for each LP that the Pittsburgh-born pianist (1921-1977) and his manager Martha Glaser (1921-2014) co-produced on their own Octave Records between 1959 and 1973.

Garner and Glaser established the imprint in 1962 after winning a $265,297.55 cash settlement in a protracted breach-of-contract lawsuit against Columbia Records, Garner’s primary label after 1950. During the decade that followed his signing with Columbia, he had become the most popular jazz instrumentalist in the world not named Louis Armstrong. A consequential factor in that process was his million-selling 1955 live album Concert by the Sea. When negotiating Garner’s contract renewal the year after that artistic and commercial milestone was released, Glaser insisted on a right-of-refusal clause; she successfully litigated it after Columbia subsequently released three albums comprising unauthorized tracks. In addition to the cash, Columbia was ordered to return the physical masters and ownership rights for all unreleased Garner recordings in its vaults made after June 1, 1956.

This landmark episode in the annals of artist rights wasn’t the first example of Glaser’s militant advocacy on behalf of her sole client. It followed an earlier lawsuit—also successful—against a shifty music publishing outfit to reclaim Garner’s copyright ownership of “Misty.” He debuted that megahit on a 1954 Mercury session, and would interpret it in practically every set he played for the rest of his life, usually before SRO audiences (his contract mandated that they be racially integrated) in concert halls and upscale nightclubs, where both “civilians” and cognoscenti honed into Garner’s instantly identifiable sound—melody-centric, ever-swinging—and highly developed technique.

Freed from corporate gatekeepers, Garner the A&R man consistently found fresh contexts for Garner the pianist to investigate on his new label. He composed a movie soundtrack, played a recital of less-traveled film favorites, found unexpected pathways through Top 40 hits. As the ’60s progressed, he expanded his rhythmic palette with Machito’s great conguero, Jose Mangual, and explored different sounds and textures. But strong as the Octave albums were, Columbia’s distribution and marketing muscle was absent, the zeitgeist was shifting, and Garner’s Q-score gradually diminished.

Garner bequeathed his recordings and copyrights to Glaser and her niece, Susan Rosenberg. Following his death, Glaser worked tirelessly to maintain his legacy, issuing a multi-LP Octave compilation for the Book of the Month Club in 1981 and licensing a reissue series on Telarc during the 1990s. In 2011, as failing health forced Glaser to disengage, Rosenberg took charge. She embarked on systematically archiving the Garner holdings housed in Glaser’s West 57th Street office—where several dozen metal cabinets, stacked floor to ceiling, held some 7,000 photographs and 8,000 well-preserved reel-to-reel tapes—and in seven separate storage facilities packed with records, letters, telegrams, contracts, artifacts, and memorabilia.." from the article: The Radical Legacy of Erroll Garner

Erroll Garner Documentary Trailer

Video from azb1975

"Trailer for Erroll Garner: No One Can Hear You Read. A documentary chronicling the life and career of this jazz legend. To learn more please visit" from video introduction


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