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Published: 2016/09/30
by Ron Hart

Erroll Garner
Ready Take One

When it comes to jazz piano, there is only one Erroll Garner. January 2, 2017, will mark the 40th anniversary of the Pittsburgh great’s death from an emphysema-related heart attack. But his evolutionary strain of bebop continues to inspire new generations of young ivory enthusiasts with the release of Ready Take One, a brand new Erroll album in 2016. This 14-song set is comprised of three studio sessions from Garner’s most creative period in the years between 1967 and 1971, where he was releasing some of his best work, including 1967’s That’s My Kick on MGM, 1968’s Up in Erroll’s Room – featuring the Brass Bed on Vanguard and the 1970 Mercury classic Feeling is Believing. However, the music from this trio of sessions, culled from two days in November of ’67 at Chicago’s Universal Recording, an October day at Capital Studios in New York City back in ’69 and a trio of separate dates staggered throughout 1971 at Manhattan’s RCA Studios, has never been released until now. And the crispness and care by which the collection’s producers Steve Rosenthal and Geri Allen (herself one of the great ladies of jazz piano), have cleaned up this material is nothing short of magnificent. Working with a variety of great bassists and percussionists from that period, including drummer Jimmie Smith and the great Ike Isaacs on the stand-up, the versions of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan”, Johnny Mercer’s “Satin Doll” and Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” are unlike anything you’ve ever heard a piano trio do to them. There is also a beautiful rendition of Garner’s own “Misty”, which was recorded in Paris on May 28, 1969 and concludes the record. And Erroll’s own standard joins six never-before-heard original compositions, which really showcase the energy and jubilance by which he’s garnered his greatest renown, particularly on the swinging open track “High Wire” and further down the tracklist “Latin Digs”, both from those ’71 sessions. Ready Take One is a beautiful gift to remember one of the true giants of the piano trio format.

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