does anyone want to talk about erroll garner?
There are 36 comments, leave a comment.
he's my favourite musician
concert by the sea is a great album.  i always try to play " i'll remember april" somewhat as he did.  that's probably the only song i do in his style and i never get tired of playing it.
i have just about transcribed 'bounce with me', one of his solo piano masterpieces, although i'm more into his trio work.
with errol's four to the bar left hand, i have not studied the chords close enough yet to tell whether they are tenths, root position chords, or rootless voicings. i first presumed they would definitely be rootless voicings of some sort as the bass covers the root. however, i'm sure erroll does more than that to achieve a fuller sound. does anyone have any knowledge on this subject?
dvd is a must for any fan.
yeah, he often punches out those chords so quick it's really difficult to work them out. i've watched the dvd closely, there are some good shots of his left hand, but they are a bit too low down to see the voicings!
i used to listen to a lot of garner. i am guessing that when he does his 4 to the bar left hand that he often alternates between 1 3 7 voicings and 1 7 10 vocings. i call those big "hank jones" voicings because he also plays them frequently.
cool, i have played around a bit with those "hank jones" voicings and i think you're right. just a little problem, my hands only just span a tenth, which can make it quite tricky!
if you can't reach the 10th, then try voicing these garner style voicings for the 4 to the bar left hand:
c- (1 3 7) f7 (5 7 3) spelled from the bottom up
ok, i just checked a bunch of his trio swing style left hand, and he plays mostly 3 notes in his left hand, not 10ths. sometimes they have a root and sometimes they are rootless. they are often confined to the range beween middle c and c one octave below (upper half area of the bass cleff)he often plays an inverted triad for the i chords ( 5 1 3 for ab for example) he often plays 3 b7 9 for c7, etc. it varies, but they are almost always three notes in the left hand.
soon as i posted that i hear him start playing a "bill evans type" rootless four note voicing for d-7 (3 5 7 9 )
but he doesn't stay with it, now he's right back to three note voicings, not quite as high in range as the typical four note rootless voincings (that's the advantage of three note voicngs, you can play them a little lower without becoming as muddy as a four note voicing)
i like the way his right hand solos at first play behind the pulse, and then the line speeds up to where it sounds like it's rushing! it's very dramatic. if you had never heard garner before you might for a moment think his timing is off because of how flexable he is with the timing of his right hand solos.
i read biography about garner and it said he had a poor memory and a low iq. he didn't read music and for one tv apearance he could not remember the theme song he was to play so the produce stood behind a curtain and sang the melody for him a measure early and garner repeated it for the live studio camera. according to his bass player, had little idea  of what key he was in when he performed and if somebody tapped on a glass during the break he would play the next song in the key of the glass! his hearing was highly developed, music was a language for him that he picked up by ear in his first three years of life.  garner once asked a famous professor if he should learn to read and the response was no, it might disturb your gift of musical genius. garner was ambidextrous: the ability to use both hands with equal ease. he could play golf fairly well either right or left handed. ray brown called erroll and his playing "the happy man."
erroll is one of my favorites. there exists a 2-volume set called "the erroll garner songbook", by cherry lane music company. these are arranged & adapted by sy johnson after arrangements by erroll. so although they are not transcriptions they are well worth owning & these arrangements do sound like him for sure. they include many photos and explanatory descriptions of the various pieces & styles he played in. a definite must-have for erroll garner aficionados. you can definitely learn something in these.
fyi, there is also a book called “jazz piano - the left hand”, by riccardo scivales,  which has a chapter of analysis and many partial transcriptions of garner’s playing.  the examples of his “strumming” style are pretty much as described by jazz+ above. there are also examples of his other styles, such as mambo, and a three-against-two reverse stride.

i heard erroll play in a big tent in lambertville, nj, sometime in the early sixties. if there’s a heaven, it must be something like that.

erroll garner is in my top 3 for favorite musicians.  his name doesn't come up enough in conversations about pianists.  he probably has the most distinct style of all pianists.  there is no mistaking his playing from anybody else's style.  it always has struck me funny how when someone just listens to his music it sounds kind of easy to play and not very advanced, but i have transcribed a few of his pieces (ballads, medium tempo swing, ect.) and some of it is even harder than the tatum and peterson i have transcribed.  it's pretty cool listening to some of his recordings in the 40's and to actually think that it was recorded then.  he was always innovative throughout his career.  a lot of the arpegios(?) he used in his left hand during ballads, even in the 40's, would be considered fourth voicings.  some of his intro's from the 50's on forward sound so avant-garde they could be considered modern by todays standards.  have you guys ever heard any of his recordings from the 60's or 70's where his left hand is playing a completely different rhythm than 4/4, but still in a sort of a pattern, while his right hand is playing something as technically demanding as his 4-note octave voicings at a rhythm that is totally free from the left hand?  that is absolutely impressive!  i could go on and on about erroll so if anyone else wants to here my comments on him just let me know.  i couldn't hold back from singing my praises of this musical genius.  if anyone wants a good musical challenge just transcribe some of his stuff.

when i started to get serious about playing again i got garner's body and soul...wonderful collection.  but the liner notes had an interesting comment.  it said something like (from memory here) perhaps the greatest pianist in whom you cannot find the influences of others and who did not seem to influence any who followed him.  i found this a curious statement.  any comments?  oh, and i've heard that concert by the sea is absolutely seminal.
hello group,

i have a book of transcribed solos of turquoise, impressions, gaslight, play piano play, twilight, and fantasy in bop which were transcribed by morris feldman. garner heard these played by feldman and was amazed at their copy was published in 1957 by criterion music corp, but in doing a search i don't think the actual book is published any more, however i came across al levy web page and he is offering all of these solos on midi or printed scores and they match exactly the solos i have in the book

with errol's four to the bar left hand he sometimes did this:
1 2 3 4 +  
with a strong accent on 1
i think he used the single bottom note of the chord for the + or other times the whole chord
, at least for the sound quality, if nothing else.
it's so great to see interest in garner here! please go ahead and say all you want optat! i know what you mean about the difference between transcribing peterson and transcribing garner. i find petersons licks make more sense 'pianistically'. in fact, i read somewhere there was a 'garner lick', but i haven't figured it out yet. i've got to order some of those transcriptions pjpastir mentioned. i've recently listened to some of those recordings from the 60's and 70's. a cool rythmic pattern i noticed was:
(swung) 1 2 3 + 4 with chords played on 1, 2 and + of 3. this style resembles some funk rythmns i've heard.
sdm, i can see the logic in that comment 'perhaps the greatest pianist in whom you cannot find the influences of others and who did not seem to influence any who followed him'. garners style is highly individual, but perhaps the four to the bar left hand came partly from the boogie-woogie pianists? as for his influence on other pianists, i'm not sure. i certainly don't hear the piano played that way often these days. it's almost as if garner created a new method of playing the piano, i mean, he sits really high above the keys in my opinion, and also presses the keys extremely hard sometimes, not something most pianists are encouraged to do. in a magazine interview i recently read, jools holland claimed 'at one point i might be imagining i'm erroll garner, but essentially you can recognise me'. in one piece, dr jazz, i have noticed erroll's influence on jools holland, but i think the comparisons end there!
i've read that many pianists try to copy erroll. thom, the books are good, i encourage anyone to get them, there's a lot of insight in there and garner himself heard the books played & approved of the arrangements. i've always loved his style & his voicings, plus nothing wrong with octaves, they're "big meat".  

anyone here every play melodies in octaves and keep the chord tones inside? i humbly raise my hand.
check this out !!!!!
a danish pianoplayer who plays in the style of garner
henrik gunde does sound like a garner imitator, but not nearly as exciting or soulful as the original. my advice to him would be to play his own style and not try to make a career out of cloning erroll.
i agree jazz+, henrik gunde has definitely got the grasp of the fundamentals of garners playing, but it seems the soul is missing somewhat. to me it sounded more like mimicry than a fresh look at garner. however, you can't really go wrong imitating garner! i am at the stage of trying to understand the style of garner as far as possible to aid in finding my own style. so far i get the chord voicings, rythmns and octaves with chord tones. does anyone know what kind of scales garner uses in his improvisations? i've figured out he uses the minor pentatonic and blues scales extensively, but that's about as far as i've got.
is an exact transcription of garner's, including the solo.
i am new using this page so i have a question not about music but about this page, could some body help me please.
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erroll is probably my favourite player at the moment, i get a bit annoyed when other jazzers dismiss him as being old fashioned or even worse, a cocktail pianist.

i've been transcribing some of his stuff, and i find his rh octave chordy things unbelievably difficult. they sound really cool though, so i'm harmonising scales/arpeggios in that way so i can use them in improvising. although they can be a strain on the hand, i find them more useful than the two handed approach of shearing or peterson.

i also like his light, single note line style. a lot of the vocabulary is swing, but there is just enough bop in there to make it linear.
which chord tones are used within the octaves, does it vary? i find putting the root and 9th or 5th and 6th sounds erroll garnerish.
i transcribed a couple of his solos on the charlie parker dial sessions, on 'cool blues' and 'this is always', and some of the block chords are ridiculusly fat, often consisting of 5 notes to one hand. he must have had a huge and poweful right hand to be able to play them with the ease he did!

i don't think he used a strict uniform system for these chords (unlike george shearing). i think its really a case of playing lines in octaves and fitting in the most conveniant chord notes.
for example, lets say one was playing the melody note d on a chord of cm7. i find the rh garner voicing of d eb g (bb if its not too much of a handful) and d to be colourful, and would play that if i was stressing that note. however, that voicing can be very fiddly when the d is in the middle of a quaver line, so a more simpler voicing of d g bb d might be more sensible, as the not is not being dwelled upon (and remember that the lh will be supplying essential harmony). when erroll did play quick quaver passas with these chords, he didn't harmonise every single note. alternating between full chord and bare octave on each quaver seems to work fine in such cases. he also often also slid on to the white notes of chord from neighbouring black notes  which adds to the flavour.
slipping off those blacks is really spicy, most players forget there are 5 of them to the 7 whites, so there are plenty of tasty choices available. 'love 'em...
some of errol's scales.

if you play c7 then start 4 scale notes down.
g g# a c d d# e g. harmonically it would really be g ab bbb c d eb fb g
you can see that he plays both 3 major and 3 minor while skipping b7 and 7. that will give you his playing color. just run on those scales when 7 chords appear.
you can also play g a bb cb d eb fb g if 7th is needed.

still looking for his minor scales.
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