12 Erroll Garner Albums Reissued in Octave Remastered Series


The Octave Remastered Series aims to fortify the legacy of pianist Erroll Garner (1921–1977).

(Photo: Courtesy Mack Avenue)

Fans of pianist Erroll Garner (1923–’77) have rejoiced in recent years, as reissues and new titles have shone a spotlight on the work of the legendary Pittsburgh native. The resurgence continues with the 12-album Octave Remastered Series, a joint effort between Mack Avenue and the Garner estate. The dozen albums—each of which has a previously unreleased bonus track—are newly restored from analog masters of releases from the 1960s and 1970s. The series represents a treasure trove for Garner fans and completists.

The first four titles in the series—Dreamstreet, Closeup In Swing, One World Concert and A New Kind Of Love—were released Sept. 27. The series will continue, with one album released per month—A Night At The Movies, Campus Concert, That’s My Kick, Up In Erroll’s Room, Feeling Is Believing, Gemini, Magician and Gershwin & Kern—leading up to the kick-off of Garner’s centennial celebration in June 2020, concluding on his 100th birthday in June 2021.

The master tapes for all 12 albums were transferred and restored using Jamie Howarth’s Plangent Process playback system, which removes machine noise and unwanted fluctuations from the original analog recordings. “The experience of it is more like you’re listening to Garner through the monitors in a professional studio, rather than listening to him off the tape copy,” said Peter Lockhart, senior producer of the project and vice president of Octave Music.

Lockhart originally began working on the Garner archives in 2015 with pianist Geri Allen, then director of jazz studies at the University of Pittsburgh. “Geri was our creative center and our ‘North Star’ in terms of the Garner project,” he said. “After she passed [on June 27, 2017], we were trying to figure out where to go from there. Geri had introduced us to Christian Sands after a three-piano Garner tribute they did with Jason Moran at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 2015, so we started talking to Christian. Then early last year, he became our creative ambassador. Christian is very passionate about performing Garner’s music in concert with his High Wire Trio, and he’s been a great ambassador for the Garner project.”

In 1959, Garner successfully sued Columbia Records to remove an album the company had released without his permission. Garner and his manager, Martha Glaser, subsequently founded and launched Octave Records, whose 12 releases make up the Octave Remastered Series.

The reissue of Dreamstreet contains the bonus track “By Chance,” an engaging, medium-tempo Garner original, while Closeup In Swing includes “Octave 103,” another original that showcases the pianist’s impeccable sense of time. One World Concert, recorded in Seattle at the 1962 World’s Fair, includes the hauntingly beautiful Garner ballad “Other Voices,” and A New Kind Of Love, featuring the pianist with a 35-piece orchestra, includes a new trio version of “Paris Mist.”

Lockhart explained that many of Garner’s spontaneous intros to tunes on the live recordings were cut to fit the time limitation of the LP format. Those same off-the-cuff intros have been restored for the new releases. “For instance, there’s an extra minute of an introduction for ‘The Way You Look Tonight,’ an extended introduction for ‘Sweet And Lovely’ and a really amazing one for ‘Mack The Knife,’ where he goes through these progressions and modulations that are really hip and that no one’s ever heard before.

“It’s such a unique catalog,” Lockhart continued. “There are so few artist-owned catalogs that are this important and this large and have so much unexplored material to work with. And it’s not just the music but a million pieces of paper—all of his telegrams and correspondence, contracts, pictures, and then there’s his clothing, jewelry, artwork. There’s so many things to explore, and we’re trying to encourage more people to go to the [Erroll Garner Archive at the University of Pittsburgh] and engage in scholarship about his life and his work.” DB

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May 2024
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