The 16th installment in the Classics Erroll Garner chronology combines eight numbers recorded for Columbia in New York on March 30, 1953; eight more for the same label cut in Detroit on July 8, 1954; and two tracks for Mercury Records in Chicago on July 27, 1954. At this point in his career, Garner became increasingly inventive, expressive, and rambunctious, as his bluesy take on Jerome Kern's "Yesterdays" and knuckle-busting renditions of "Frenesi" and "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'" illustrate. The Detroit session is remarkable for the presence of Woody Herman. Familiar to the public as a clarinet-blowing big-band leader with a penchant for rowdy novelty tunes and a tendency, during the late '40s, to employ young musicians with bop sensibilities, Herman appears with the Erroll Garner Trio as a warm and persuasive vocalist. Track nine, a medley lasting nearly 11 minutes, traces a progression from new love to romance to hopeless infatuation to heartbreak. Each successive vocal track is a gem, and the mutual enjoyment felt by Herman and Garner is palpable. Throughout this entire compilation, Garner's bassist was Pittsburgh native Wyatt "Bull" Ruther and his drummer was Eugene "Fats" Heard, who had worked with Lionel Hampton and Coleman Hawkins and who would leave Garner's band in 1955 to settle down and make steady money as a businessman in his hometown of Cleveland, OH. This album closes with two examples of what the Erroll Garner Trio sounded like when spiced up by the conga drumming of Cuban percussionist Candido Camero.
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