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Ready Take One
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Ready Take One
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Erroll Garner was one of the great American Jazz pianists of the 20th century, yet very few know his name or his music. Ready Take One is the first completely new Garner studio album in nearly 25 years.
As never before, listeners are treated to a rare peek behind the studio doors, with revealing conversation between Garner, his quartet, and longtime manager/producer Martha Glaser included between many of the songs. As pianist/producer Geri Allen writes, "a kind of fifth member of the band, Glaser would support Erroll Garner in the moment of the creative act", as evidenced by the title of the album, a direct reference to Glaser's steady refrain of, "Ready, take one".
Ready Take One features six never before released original Garner compositions, including the infectious "Wild Music" and beautiful ballad, "Back To You". Recorded during a prolific five-year period beginning in 1967, all 14 songs on Ready Take One are previously unreleased, having only recently been discovered after nearly 50 years.
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EG, p; Ernest McCarthy, Ike Isaacs, George Duvivier, Larry Gales, b; Jimmie Smith, Joe Cocuzzo, dr; Jose Mangual, conga.
It’s shocking to think that this lovely music has been sitting in a bin for almost fifty years. (The reels are from 1967, 1969, 1nd 1971 sessions.) It’s patented Erroll Garner, which means driving, exuberant, harmonically and rhythmically rich mainstream jazz. More than any other pianist of his age, Garner managed to blend the advanced harmonies with a unique rhythm sense (and left hand) that evoked an earlier age, located somewhere between swing (Basie, Teddy Wilson, Jess Stacy…) and earlier stride-ish styles of playing (Waller, James P. Johnson…) He was the master of rubato playing: the practice of temporarily altering or stopping tempo for emotional or musical effect. In his case, that meant the left hand lagging tempo while the right hand melody line sped up, and long stretches, especially before he finally broke into the melody, of chorded fantasia. Listen casually to the tunes on this album and it just flows past, enjoyable but not particularly noticeable. It’s certainly not jarring. Listen closely, and you‘ll blown away by his virtuosity as a keyboard artist, by his intuitive and startling use of harmonies, by his super-sophisticated, subtle sense of rhythm and polyrhythm. I’m not a lover of conga playing on jazz sets but it works here. It’s just part of the rich rhythmic brew that Garner cooked up every time he sat down to play. Garner’s music is just as worth the listening today as it was fifty years ago.
Fifty-two years later, The Elf continues to amaze me with the release of this late 1960s studio recording and, as was the case last year, when the recently-discovered additional tracks from The Concert By the Sea were released.
I predict that Erroll Garner's artistry, already legendary, will prove to be timeless.
But this version by Erroll, done with the sparsest accompaniment, will always be my favorite. Too bad it wasn't a longer piece.