Ready Take One
I’d always wondered why Erroll Garner’s material never resurfaced – we don’t seem to get the reissues of his material as with so many other jazzers. I don’t know how he’s rated, in the scheme of things, but surely more than just a footnote – I love his playing and his wise song selections. Well, turns out his manager and executor of his estate, Martha Glaser, blocked out the record company after Garner’s death, part of a dispute going back to the 1960s when, surprise surprise, he was being ripped off. Well, when Glaser passed (2014) that meant the executor of her estate was in charge or Garner’s too – so now we have some reissues. First up a magical repackage (and complete version) of the Concert By The Sea; the album/show that Garner is best known for.
And now this compilation which takes its name from Glasser’s on-mic call which you can hear here. Garner was, apparently, a one-take guy. At least most of the time. But the material here is from a handful of different sessions, and late in the career – early seventies.
It plays through to me like a great, great album – even if its musical tone shifts from wistful balladry (Back to You) to near gospel revelry (Chase Me).
A handful of staples are dressed in new clothes – wonderful takes on Sunny, Night and Day and Satin Doll are all highlights. But the real surprises are when Garner lets loose, as on Wild Music and the bluesy Down Wylie Avenue.
I know him best as soloist or leader of a trio but he did sometimes add a conga player – and here that texture is marvellous (Jose Mangual is to thank).
It’s a constantly eclectic set – as is the way when piecing together from separate sessions. The opener is a Garner composition called High Wire. He’s delicate at the piano, with an elasticated bass line doing the real talking and that conga playing locking in with the drums to create a hypnotic rhythm. But late in the album you’ll hear an old standard, Stella By Starlight for instance, and be whiskey away on another sort of journey altogether.
Because of that I can see this being a great introduction to the talents of Erroll Garner, if you’ve heard the name but not delved well…obviously Concert by The Sea is a starting point. But what next? This. Absolutely this. I’ve been playing this album almost non-stop lately. A wonderful collection that shows a breadth and depth of a marvelous musician.