Pittsburgh-born pianist and composer Erroll Garner was one of the best-known and most successful jazz musicians in the world during his lifetime. Coming from a musical family, Garner was self-taught at the piano and began playing professionally at the age of only seven years old. By the age of seven, he was performing professionally. Throughout his career, Garner developed a distinctive and original piano style that was often compared to Art Tatum, Fats Waller or Claude Debussy. One of Garner's distinctive features were his sprawling introductions, which strung together numerous, often humorous references and quotations from various pieces. For minutes at a time, he would improvise with breakneck virtuosity before finding his way to the actual piece, much to the delight of the audience.
Garner received several Grammy nominations and recorded one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time, Concert By The Sea. He composed nearly 200 compositions, including "Misty," which is ranked 15th on ASCAP's list of the best songs of the 20th century. He has composed for ballet, film, television and orchestra. One of the most performed jazz artists of his time, Garner appeared on television shows around the world, including: Ed Sullivan, Dick Cavitt, Steve Allen, Johnny Carson, and many others. His successful career began on the Allegheny riverboats and ranged from the clubs of 52nd Street in New York City to the great concert halls of the world.
At the age of only 55 Erroll Garner lost his battle against lung cancer and passed away in 1977. Through rereleases of his iconic albums by the Erroll Garner Project, his music is once again finding new audiences.
Photos @ William P. Gottlieb, ErrollGarner.com