Producing legendary American jazz pianist and composer Erroll Garner for London Records taught me as much about creativity and defining success in life and career as it did about his musical genius.
Born in Pittsburgh on June 15, 1921, Erroll began playing piano at the age of three. Like most kids, he didn’t write his goals down on paper or construct a rudimentary business plan; he simply played. He was self-taught and “played by ear,” never learning to read music. He appeared on KDKA radio at the age of seven and by the ripe old age of 11 was performing on Allegheny riverboats. In 1947 played with Charlie Parker on the “Cool Blues” session. Tall on talent but short in stature (5’2″), Erroll performed while sitting on a stack of phone books. An instrumentalist, his grunting and groaning vocalizations can be heard on his recordings and are his signature while his musical style is a combination of using his right hand to play behind the beat while his left strummed a steady rhythm. His musical sense of humor came from his improvised introductions to pieces that had nothing to do with the songs they set up. His composition “Misty” is a jazz standard.
Erroll Garner’s s life and legacy taught me:
- Follow your passion without compromise.
- Life is about improvisation.
- Don’t wait to learn it to live it. Live your passion every moment and keep learning along the way.
- Don’t play to convention. Do what comes naturally and feels “right” to you.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. Keep your sense of humor and share it with others.
Bass, Electric Bass – Bob Cranshaw
Congas – Jose Mangual
Organ – Norman Gold
Percussion – Grady Tate
Piano – Erroll Garner
Producer – Garrison Leykam, Martha Glaser
Tambourine – Jackie Williams (2)