This week marks the 60th anniversary of jazz piano great — and Pittsburgh native — Erroll Garner’s famed “Concert By the Sea” in Carmel, Calif. It was one of the best-selling jazz albums of the 1950s and thanks to the efforts of the Erroll Garner Archive and the Erroll Garner Jazz Project, a year-long celebration is under way to mark the milestone.
The centerpiece of the celebration is the release of sprawling three-CD boxed set “The Complete Concert By the Sea.” With 36 tracks — more than a third of which are previously unreleased — clocking in at close to three hours, the set offers a detailed look at one of the most distinctive and talented musicians of his era.
“Erroll Garner personified the joy of fearless virtuosity and exploration,” notes Geri Allen, an award-winning pianist and director of jazz studies at the University of Pittsburgh. “One of the defining precursors to bebop, piano giant Erroll Garner embodied the very spirit of swing and free improvisation from every vantage point. Singular yet all embracing, Garner blurred the line between great art and popular art, and he was a staunch journeyman of the blues and his Pittsburgh legacy.”
Highlights abound on “The Complete Concert By the Sea,” most notably his renfitions of “Night and Day,” “I’ll Remember April,” “Will You Still Be Mine,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” “S’Wonderful,” “Caravan” and “Where or When.” This set is a must for any self-respecting jazz fan. (Jeffrey Sisk)