Ready Take One

Erroll Garner

Legacy, 2016

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Unreleased material can be either good news or bad news. Sometimes it has remained unreleased because it’s poor quality. Other times, an artist has a plethora of excellent tracks and there is no room for them all. Luckily, Erroll Garner’s new release Ready Take One falls into the second category.

Nearly 40 after Garner’s death, this can be considered a new studio album. The 14 previously unreleased tracks contain six original compositions recorded during 1967 to 1971. He is backed here by drummers Jimmie Smith and Joe Cocuzzo, bassists Ernest McCarty, Ike Isaacs, George Duvivier, and Larry Gales, plus percussionist Jose Manguel.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Garner’s swinging jazz style was more approachable than many of his contemporaries. He was one of the most technically adept jazz pianists of his era, and his ability to explore a song’s structure while remaining true to the melody gained him mainstream commercial popularity.

He was a genius at covering material while adding intricate layers and subtle changes to the structures. Here, he explores a number of pop standards of the day, plus some material from the Great American Songbook. Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny” is the perfect song for Garner’s light touch. Duke Ellington’s “Satin Doll,” and “Caravan,” plus the old Cole Porter staple ‘Night And Day,” are given classic swinging renditions. The highlight is “Down Wylie Avenue,” which is a blues tune at its foundation.

But the highlight of the release is the original compositions. “Wild Music,” “Back To You,” “Chase Me,” “High Wire,” “Latin Digs,” and “Down Wylie Avenue” may not reach the same quality of his best-known song “Misty,” but they are very representative of his work from the last phase of his career.

The sound on this disc has been meticulously restored courtesy of modern day technology. The enclosed booklet contains three essays by noted music historians, which cover all the facets of the music and project.

It is unclear whether Ready Take One will be the last Erroll Garner studio album. If that is the case, though, he has gone out in style 39 years after his death.

Rating: A-

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© 2016 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Legacy, and is used for informational purposes only.