On this CD, the third Classics set featuring Erroll Garner at the beginning of his career, the pianist is mostly heard during Dec. 22-25, 1944, when he was caught on disc practicing at Baron Timme Rosenkrantz's home. Because there were no time restrictions, Garner really stretches out on a few of the numbers, including the 10-1/2 minute "Duke for Dinner" (which has abstract references to many of Duke Ellington's songs) and nine-minute versions of "Variations on a Nursery Rhyme," "I Got Rhythm" and his own "In the Beginning." In addition, there is an eight-minute medley of Christmas songs. In general, Erroll Garner is surprisingly unrecognizable in spots, playing quite impressionistically with only his sly wit being identifiable. The set is rounded off by a previously unreleased version of "Somebody Loves Me" (with a vocal by Inez Cavanaugh) from Nov. 3, 1944 that is actually the earliest documentation of Garner discovered yet. The music is historic, but not as significant as what was to come from the pianist very shortly.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow
feat: Inez Cavanaugh