Jul 13, 2018
History may show that we are living in the golden age of the jazz archival release. During the past ten years, advances in technology, and the desire of a few dedicated individuals (think Zev Feldman at Resonance) have brought listeners “new” recordings from legends like Bill Evans, Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, Thelonious Monk, and especially John Coltrane and Miles Davis.
The Erroll Garner Jazz Project at the Erroll Garner archive at the University of Pittsburgh has played an important role in finding and lovingly releasing the work of the late pianist. Nightconcert, which was released on July 13th, presents Garner at the peak of his genius, recorded at a midnight concert in November 1964 at The Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam with an audience of 2000 highly enthusiastic and enraptured people of all ages. Joined by his rhythm section of bassist Eddie Calhoun and drummer Kelly Martin, with whom he’d been playing for nearly a decade, the performance that night is captured on this album, which features eight never-before-heard Garner song interpretations, including a newly discovered original.
This is the third new Garner release from the Garner Estate through Octave Music since its relaunch in 2015; the first, The Complete Concert by the Sea, was named 2016 historical record of the year by the Jazz Journalist Association and nominated for a GRAMMY® Award and an NAACP Image Award. It was produced by the late and deeply missed master jazz pianist Geri Allen, along with four-time GRAMMY® Award-winner, Steve Rosenthal. The second release, Ready Take One, a collection of previously unreleased studio recordings that was also nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album, was produced by Allen, Rosenthal and Peter Lockhart. Nightconcert is produced by Lockhart, Rosenthal and pianist/composer Christian Sands in his new role as Creative Ambassador for the Erroll Garner Jazz Project.
The performances draw heavily on the Great American Songbook, always Garner’s greatest strength as an interpreter. The romp through “Cheek to Cheek” is a delight, and there are strong takes on “Where or When” and “On Green Dolphin Street.” Garner’s signature introductory phrases are on display, taking the listener into the pianist's thought process as he makes the determination of when to move into the melody, and bring the band in with him. This is another valuable recording that continues to add to Garner’s legacy, as well as an important document for the emergence of Garner’s composition “That Amsterdam Swing”, a previously unreleased, and worthy addition to his canon.
Podcast 626 is my conversation with two key participants in the Erroll Garner Project – producer Peter Lockhart and Susan Greenberg, the niece of Garner’s long-time manager and executrix of his estate, Martha Glaser, who became responsible for the archive upon her aunt's death. We’ll talk about the new CD, and listen to a few tracks from the album, one of the year’s greatest discoveries.