Erroll Garner, born in 1921 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a veritable enigma in the history of 20th-century American popular music. Self-taught, gifted with a prodigious ear, he developed a dazzlingly unique style of piano playing that broke away from any pre-established trends. Not surprisingly, he is adulated by his peers, placed in the pantheon of the purest and most spontaneous jazz geniuses, and loved by the general public. His style, a perfect blend of big-band swing energy and piano orchestration, has influenced many musicians, yet remains unmistakable and utterly unique.
From an early age, Garner was able to synthesize the contributions of the great masters of stride piano, such as James P. Johnson and Fats Waller, and of the swing era, such as Earl Hines and Art Tatum. Although invited to New York by Charlie Parker in 1947, he always kept his distance from the intellectualism and formalism of bebop, preferring to concentrate on a timeless "art of the trio", which reached its apogee in 1955 with the international success of the live album "Concert by the Sea".
Always true to his style, Garner continued to innovate, transforming his trio into a quartet by integrating a percussionist adept at Afro-Cuban rhythms and experimenting with ambitious orchestral formulas. Among his most striking experiments is the album "Up in Erroll's Room", recorded in November 1967, which features the pianist's orchestra accompanied by a brilliant, perfectly "modernist" brass section.
A few weeks before recording this atypical album, Erroll Garner found himself in the studio in Berlin at the head of his brand-new band. This brief but inspired moment of musical creation has remained unpublished to this day, but is now accessible thanks to The Lost Recordings. Erroll Garner, accompanied by Ike Isaaks on double bass, Jimmy Smith on drums and Jose Mangual on bongos, offers the quintessence of his poetics in this session.
The Erroll Garner pieces captured during this studio session express the pianist's talent and virtuosity.