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Errol Garner: The Complete Savoy Master Takes

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Album Review

Does it get any better than this? The nearly two hours of music on this double CD set covers Erroll Garner's complete released output for Savoy from January 1945 — where he was part of the Slam Stewart Quartet — through the summer of 1949. All of it has been transferred off original acetate sources and very carefully CEDAR-ized to bring out the musical detail in preference to the noise inherent in the masters, and the result is one up-close-and-personal get-together between one's ears and his piano, with bassist John Simmons and drummers Alvin Stoller or Jesse Price providing the underlying beat. From his dazzling first recording of "Laura" through the quieter joys of "I Only Have Eyes for You" (the only rendition that ever eclipsed the Flamingos' more extroverted version as this writer's favorite, with its quietly ornate glory) to "Stormy Weather," the material here is priceless in its alternately serene and playful elegance, and also one of the best cases (if one were still needed) for digital audio and CD playback — this music is all too quiet to be interfered with by the flaws in vinyl, to be fully appreciated. The annotation is also extremely thorough, and the entire set is a must-own piece for fans of the pianist, or the piano.

Biography

Born: 15 June 1921 in Pittsburgh, PA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

One of the most distinctive of all pianists, Erroll Garner proved that it was possible to be a sophisticated player without knowing how to read music, that a creative jazz musician can be very popular without watering down his music, and that it is possible to remain an enthusiastic player without changing one's style once it is formed. A brilliant virtuoso who sounded unlike anyone else, on medium tempo pieces, Erroll Garner often stated the beat with his left hand like a rhythm guitar while his...
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