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Erroll Garner, 'The Complete Concert By The Sea,' Sony Legacy/Octave (REVIEW)

By Mike Greenblatt m.greenblatt@classicalite.com on Oct 13, 2015 08:01 PM EDT

One of the best-selling jazz albums of all-time, Concert By The Sea (1956) by The Erroll Garner Trio has now been digitally re-mastered into The Complete Concert By The Sea (Sony Legacy/Octave), a three-CD boxed set with 11 previously unreleased tracks and rare post-set interviews with pianist Garner, acoustic bassist Eddie Calhoun [1921-1993] and drummer Denzil DaCosta Best [1917-1965].

Naturally, it debuted on the Billboard jazz chart at #1. Garner was a pianist's pianist. He's the link between swing and bebop and he always played with flair and "fearless virtuosity and exploration," according to producer Geri Allen in the extensive liner notes. (Garner, who was born in Pittsburgh in 1923, died in Los Angeles in 1977 from cardiac arrest due to emphysema complications at the age of 53.)

These tapes, newly uncovered after six decades, present a showman at the height of his powers. The event was part of the Carmel, California "Sunset Series" from local promoter Jimmy Lyons. It proved to be the forerunner of the nearby Monterey Jazz Festival which premiered two years later in 1958.

Disc #1 has most of the unreleased gems like "Night And Day," "Spring Is Here," "The Nearness Of You," "Sweet And Lovely," "Will You Still Be Mine," "Bernie's Tune" and two stand-outs: George Shearing's "Lullaby Of Birdland" and Billie Holiday's "I Cover The Waterfront" (written by Johnny Green). Garner strays just off-center with the melodies of both to tickle the imagination.

Disc #2 features a lovely unreleased version of George Gershwin's "S'Wonderful" as well as an unreleased "Laura," the jazz standard written by David Raksin for the 1945 film of the same name. A brief whiff of Ellingtonia ensues when Erroll digs into "Caravan" with mucho gusto.

Disc #3 is the original album with the never-before-heard post-show interviews. All three discs sound brand spankin' new due to today's sophisticated technology. And that's the rub--one needn't succumb to primitive recording techniques (especially on a live recording) to fully enjoy the feel-good 10-fingered ruminations of an artist whose legacy may need a makeover. This is a good start.

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TagsErroll Garner, 'Concert By The Sea', REVIEW

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