There have been so many musicians over the decades, that my dad’s sticking to only the top of the charts for his collection has kind of limited the collection. Yes, sticking to the hits would show a great representation to the culture during the different decades but a lot is left out. I’ve always been a sucker for the counter cultures after all! I guess what I’m trying to say is, as legendary as Errol Garner was, I would have completely missed out had I not broadened my horizons!
Erroll Louis Garner (June 15, 1921 – January 2, 1977) was an American jazz pianist and composer known for his swing playing and ballads. Scott Yanow of Allmusic calls him “one of the most distinctive of all pianists” and a “brilliant virtuoso”.
Born in Pittsburgh, PA, to an African American family in 1921, Erroll began playing piano at the age of three. Garner was self-taught and remained an “ear player” all his life – he never learned to read music. Garner is credited with having a superb memory of music. At the age of seven, he began appearing on the radio station KDKA in Pittsburgh with a group called the Candy Kids. By the age of 11, he was playing on the Allegheny riverboats. At 14 in 1937, he joined local saxophonist Leroy Brown.
Short in stature (5 ft 2 in), Garner performed sitting on multiple telephone directories. Considering that his small hands could barely span an octave on the piano keyboard, his rapid right-handed octave and chordal passages were all the more amazing. He was also known for his vocalizations while playing, which can be heard on many of his recordings. He helped to bridge the gap for jazz musicians between nightclubs and the concert hall.
Garner made many tours both at home and abroad, and produced a large volume of recorded work. He was, reportedly, The Tonight Show host Johnny Carson’s favorite jazz musician, appearing on Carson’s show many times over the years.
Erroll Garner died from a cardiac arrest on January 2, 1977. He is buried in Pittsburgh’s Homewood Cemetery.
Plays for Dancing
I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm
Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man
Stompin’ at the Savoy
Out of Nowhere
It’s the Talk of the Town
Sweet Sue – Just You
Cheek to Cheek
Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone
The Petite Waltz
The Petite Waltz Bounce