Erroll Garner, Ready Take One
Now, there's more.
It turns out that Garner's agent, Martha Glaser, who died a few years ago, had socked away thousands of tape reels of musiclive concerts, studio sessions, rehearsalsand now her niece, Susan Rosenberg, who inherited the estate, is going through the cache, with the aid of a professional archivist. The first bounty of their labor, Ready Take Onepreviously unknown studio recordings of Garner and his trio from 196771 (also on Sony)is a treasure, better in some ways than Concert by the Sea and, in any case, a revelation.
We hear Garner not just coaxing finely wrought ballads from the keyboard ("Misty" and a gorgeous original called "Back to You") but also pounding virtuosic funky blues, something close to soulful rock, and a cover of "Caravan" that will have your head swirling.
One thing regrettable about Concert by the Sea, even back when it first came out, was the sound quality: no one thought it would be an album, but the music was so great, Columbia went with the amateur recording on hand; and while the 2015 remaster marks an improvement, it's still dim and distant. The sonics on Ready Take One aren't stellar, but they range from good to very good (the 14 tracks were recorded at different studios with, presumably, different, uncredited engineers). You hear much more of Garner's magic.
More good news: the album is available not only as a CD but as a double-LP with a gatefold cover, replete with evocative photos and an essay booklet. And the two LPsthere's no additional material, only an extra slab of vinyl to allow for wider groovessound much better than the CD. You hear more of the piano's bodyits reverberations, dynamics, and overtones. You hear more variety of timbres from the drumkit, more pluck from the bass, more room ambience. On a couple tracks, the piano sounds a little tinkly (that may be the piano), but even those tracks exude more presence and air.
Steve Rosenthal of The Magic Shop transferred the original ½-inch, 4-track tapes to 24/192 digital files, which, along with Kabir Hermon and Peter Lockhart, he then mixed to 2-channel (except for "Misty," which is from a mono tape recorded in Paris in 1969). Rosenthal told me in an email, "Although the tapes were stored at nine different locations here in Manhattan for nearly 50 years, they were in remarkably good shape," though he had to bake some of them before transferring, so they wouldn't shed during playback.
And there's more to come, some of it, Susan Rosenberg tells me, this year. Watch for it, and get this.