The Erroll Garner Trio

The Greatest Garner

Erroll Garner is unique in many respects. The elfin pianist (just 5’2”) couldn’t read music, yet he composed the haunting “Misty.” An occasionally florid player (one critic called him a “kind of hyped-up cocktail musician”), he recorded with ür-bopper Charlie Parker. Even more out of character (for a jazz musician) was his super-best-selling LP, 1955’s Concert by the Sea. As part of its Jazz Masters Series, Atlantic has collected some long unavailable tunes from 1949-50 that reveal just how terrific a pianist he really is. Alternating between his trademarked breezy interpretations of standards (e.g., “The Way You Look Tonight”) and the liquid grace of compositions such as Debussy’s “Reverie” are his serious improvisations on numbers like “Summertime” and “Flamingo.” The highlight is a stunning nine and one-half minute performance of his “Perpetual Emotion.”