Do You Miss Erroll Garner?

Sometimes I get buried in deadline work and through neglect or “a kind of monumental inefficiency” (to borrow a favorite Paul Desmondism), I let a day or two go by without putting something new on Rifftides. Then, it gets to be ‘round midnight and it occurs to me that I have committed what my blog guru long ago said was the ultimate weblog goof—dead air, white space, or whatever it’s called on the internet. So, not having the foresight to stockpile shelf pieces, I flail about looking for inspiration in hopes of finding something that will preserve the integrity of the operation or, at least, be entertaining.

“Whoa!” as Burma Jones (speaking of monumental inefficiency) often said, look who Erroll Garner Head Shotcame to the rescue this time: Lester Perkins, the proprietor of Jazz on the Tube. His latest video borrowed from YouTube features Erroll Garner in the BBC studios in London in 1964. So, I’m borrowing from Lester’s borrowing.

Launching into a song and taking his sweet time about it, Erroll indulges in one of his favorite pastimes, keeping his sidemen guessing. Notice the bassist, Eddie Calhoun, as he and drummer Kelly Martin remain at the ready while the boss goes exploring. Eventually, Garner lets them in on the plan and, ultimately, finds his inner Fats Waller.


Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Reddit


  1. des stanley says

    Many thanks for the erroll garner post and as a foundational inspiration into my jazz world. Yes, I do miss him.

  2. says

    His intro reminds me of one of my favorite “stride” recordings: Solo Monk. T Monk clearly got a bit of Garner in his upbringing. Who needs coffee with cuts like this one!

  3. George Ziskind says

    One day, almost exactly fifty years ago, I was having a discussion with Tadd Dameron and the topic at the moment was Erroll Garner. Tadd stared silently into the distance for a few beats. Then he said, slowly, “That’s a case of raw, cold-blooded talent.”

  4. says

    Thanks for the reminder about Erroll. I heard him in nightclubs many times before Martha Glaser took him away to the concert stage. And I made one lovely tour with him on the Birdland show while I was with Mulligan’s quartet. He had Kelly Martin and Eddie Calhoun with him, played his buns off every night, and kept us entertained every day with wonderful stories while we were traveling. He was the most charming road companion I’ve ever had.

  5. dick vartanian says

    The first time I heard this track I think I played it about twenty times- more amazed each time. Erroll is absolutely irreplaceable !!

  6. Ken Dryden says

    Dave Brubeck told me more than once how much he enjoyed Erroll Garner. It is a mystery to me why so much of Garner’s catalog is out of print, particularly nearly everything on Columbia other than Concert By the Sea.

  7. Terence Smith says

    I think some have theorized that Erroll enjoyed a a neurological condition called “synesthesia”. He heard and saw sounds as colors and his handfuls of chords were a real artist’s palette, a rainbow he could see, hear, and touch with such joy. I think Garner gives me a lower order case of synesthesia when I hear him.

    When Charlie Parker did “Cool Blues” and ” Bird’s Nest” (1947) with Garner, they seemed to create a canvas together unusually colorful even for Bird!