What is it with this year and finding long lost jazz records? First, it was a lost Coltrane recording from 1963, now it’s a perfectly fucking recorded Erroll Garner concert from 1964? This recording was said to be found in “Garner’s personal archive”. My only question is, what in the sweet unholy deep fried fuck is happening?
Are you fucking kidding me? A “personal archive”. You’re telling me that for the last 54 years this album was just sitting somewhere in some drawer somewhere and nobody thought, “hey, maybe those crazy fucking jazzheads, those beautifully dedicated fans, would like to listen to this piece of history”? An equivalent of this would be shitting out a Rothko or pissing out diamonds. Nope. I don’t believe that shit. I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again, some motherfucker made major fucking bank on this shit. This wasn’t “found”. It was tucked away as someone’s rainy day fund. All this release proves is that it finally fucking rained.
If you don’t get what I’m trying to say, let me explain.
In certain circles of the jazz world, the holy trinity of jazz pianists goes as thus: Art Tatum (the one that started it all), Oscar Peterson (the Maharaja of the keyboard), and Errol fucking Garner. In their lifetimes, Errol was way more popular than Coltrane. The man ate pianos for breakfast and shit out complex arrangements. If you like minimalist jazz, don’t bother. Errol is ADHD with a side of swing. His thinking was more is more, not less is more. He would send out a deluge of notes as an introduction, all in key. Then, after being bombarded by sound, a trickle of the song’s motif would stream out. It’s a pretty sly, and hard to pull off, trick. Sure, this might sound annoying, but I bet you anything you’ll be smiling by the end of one of his songs. Motherfucker knew how to play. Of course, Errol didn’t like to let his band know what he was going to play either. So after these long elaborate introductions, the band would stare out at their star plucking away on those keys and still be guessing at what song they were supposed to be playing. Another amazing fact is that Errol is completely self-taught. Dude couldn’t read music.
So, you have a recording of one of the most famous jazz pianists of all time, at his absolute peak performing at one of the most famous concert halls in the world, and it just happens to be tucked away somewhere? Fuck that. I’m not buying it. There’s no reason to ask if the recording is good, it’s fucking great. This shit is like watching a team of LeBron James’s play a 10-year-old. Errol absolutely owns this shit. No contest. But I can’t help but have a pain in my gut listening to this album. I love Errol and how he entertains a crowd. You can almost hear him smiling on this record. But, somewhere in there, I can hear someone else flipping through stacks of cash and laughing their ass off. If you can avoid the sound of assholes, this record is absolutely wonderful.