Unreleased material can be either good news or bad news. Sometimes material remains unreleased because of poor quality. Other times an artist has a plethora of excellent tracks and there is no room for them all. 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. The tracks were recorded 1967-1971, and he is backed by drummers Jimmie Smith and Joe Cocuzzo, bassists Ernest McCarty, Ike Isaacs, George Duvivier, and Larry Gales, plus percussionist Jose Manguel.
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 and 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.
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 be of the quality of his best known song “Misty” but they are very representative of his work from the last phase of his career.
The sound has been meticulously restored courtesy of modern day technology. The enclosed booklet contains three essays by noted music historians, which cover all facets of the music and project.
It is unknown if Ready Take One will be the last Erroll Garner studio album. If that should be the case, he has gone out in style 39 years after his death.