Just Above Sunset Archives
December 21, 2003: This Week's Music Notes
Errol Garner: Enjoys Rodgers and Porter (Ocium)
I had a chat with Garner once, back in the late sixties, while we were both waiting for our flights out of Milwaukee. A nice fellow. We chatted about our mutual hometown, Pittsburgh.
This particular album is cobbled up from recordings of Richard Rogers and Cole Porter standards from 1944 to 1953 - "Lover" and "This Can't Be Love" and such things. The sound quality is not very good, but he's really powerful here.
The British critic John Fordham sums up Garner this way:
Garner was a delightfully flamboyant and vivacious pianist, whose ignorance of formal piano technique or musical theory seemed to intensify the blasé exuberance with which he approached the instrument - and astounded schooled players, who couldn't figure out how such fountains of spontaneously-generated harmony, freedom in any key, and effortlessly intricate independence of the hands was possible from someone who'd picked it all up by chance.
I too am a self-taught pianist, but my playing is far from "blasé exuberance." Tortured timidity is more like it. Listening to Garner makes me happy. A nice album.
Allan Kozinn in the New York Times review of the best classic CD recordings of the year lists this:
GLASS: ÉTUDES NOS. 1-10
Well, "arpeggiated, repeating chordal figures and slow transformations" can be wonderfully hypnotic, or stunningly boring, or really quite irritating. This depends on your mood, and the quality and amount of scotch available. I have a friend who every time I mention Philip Glass intones, "Glass is good, Glass is good, Glass is good, Glass is good, Glass is good, Glass is good..." I play Philip Glass stuff when it rains and I'm feeling disconnected. Is it appropriate otherwise?
Anne Midgette lists this:
I have a copy of Reich's "Closely Watched Trains." It's the aural equivalent of staring at the Edward Hopper painting Nighthawks - of the folks in the diner at night, that "clean, well-lighted place." I may have to find this album.