ORIGINAL 1963 LP LINER NOTES
Everything about this album presents Erroll Garner in new and challenging creative situations. Here, Garner makes his debut as a composer of motion picture themes, and here, too, he brings his piano artistry into a new dimension within the setting of a magnificent 35 piece orchestra conducted by Leith Stevens.
For this album, Garner has taken the themes he composed for the score of the Paramount film, A NEW KIND OF LOVE, and re-created them expressly for recording. He has extended his own compositions, and re-interpreted the pictures' standard songs, far beyond their original use in the film's under score, with enormously fulfilling and exciting results.
A NEW KIND OF LOVE is a fast-moving romantic comedy in technicolor, set against Paris and New York backgrounds, with some highly imaginative fantasy sequences. Starring Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman, A NEW KIND OF LOVE presented a panoramic canvas against which Garner could compose with complete freedom, in many moods-ranging from the most melodic, swinging songs, to some poignant lyric ballads.
The uninhibited imagery which is so characteristic of Garner's piano improvisations was given full rein in relation to the situations and portrayals in the film, and is even further developed in this album collection. What began as an assignment to compose four themes for underscore, became a series of memorable songs in the hands of Garner. As with his classic MISTY, and his many other compositions, the new Garner themes from the film stay with the listener.
In the film, the Garner themes were adapted and orchestrated by veteran Hollywood composer conductor, Leith Stevens, who subsequently joined Garner in this album venture. Stevens, who has some sixty films to his credit, and is a product of the Horner Institute of Music, and Juilliard, had many things to say about the entire film and album experience with Garner: "Early in February of this year, Erroll Garner was engaged by Paramount Studios in Hollywood to compose four themes for the film, A NEW KIND OF LOVE. At about the same time, Paramount engaged me to do the score, asking me to use Garner's themes in a major way in the body of the score. This is not an unusual procedure in musicals, where, by custom, the songs of the production are always used as the basis of the score; but, to my knowledge, this is the first time the technique has been applied to a film other than the musical variety. Although I have done many musicals, I have never been asked to score this kind of film using material written by another composer.
"There were several other unique conditions present in this situation: First, Garner had never written music for a specific dramatic purpose-much less music to conform to the rigid customs of film writing.
"Second, in the past, even when producers have managed to engage Jazz composers approaching Garner's stature, they have been assigned to do films concerned with murder, mayhem, delinquency, deviation, drugs, or insanity. Parenthetically, Garner has consistently-through the years-refused to accept such assignments, refusing to use his music or image to underscore sordid, or negative subjects. Thus, unknowingly, he had joined ranks with many of us here in Hollywood who feel Jazz has more to contribute than would be possible if it is to be relegated to such stereotyped and often tasteless films. This score had to be a far cry from anything done for films by a jazz composer in the past.
"As soon as Garner arrived in Hollywood, we began to study the film together. Early in our meetings, I learned that Erroll thinks musically in terms of character, color, texture, line and mood. This ability is a prime requisite for proper and effective film writing. Garner studied the movements and nuances of Miss Woodward and Newman on screen, as well as the Paris backgrounds, and readily captured many vital facets," Stevens stated.
Garner's first composition for the film, THE THEME FROM A NEW KIND OF LOVE combines the brash, beautiful and whimsical qualities of the character played by Joanne Woodward. STEVE'S SONG is a musical portrait of the film personality projected by Paul Newman, with a loping effect and wry seriocomic overtones.
Garner's third theme is a stunning, truly continental melody called PARIS MIST. Two versions are presented in the album-one combines a lilting waltz and swing choruses, the other, a fiery Bossa Nova version.
Garner's fourth theme is introduced in the film during a scene using a split screen showing a cabaret setting on one side and a sedate high style fashion show on the other. The treatments of the song vary as widely as the activity on each side of the screen. The lyrical FASHION INTERLUDE is a melodic, swinging waltz. THE TEASE is raucous and kicking. They seem, at first hearing, to be two different pieces of music, and are part of the surprises and variations Garner employs in re-translating the film score into this recorded version.
Three top orchestrators worked from the blocked-out arrangements created by Garner with Leith Stevens. Pete Rugolo developed the orchestrations of MIMI and IN THE PARK IN PAREE, with exhilarating results. Jimmy Haskell orchestrated THE TEASE, and Nathan Van Cleave imaginatively orchestrated the remaining seven numbers. The piano parts, in all of the selections herein, are unwritten. Garner improvised his parts on-the-spot at the actual recording sessions, intriguing even the most seasoned studio musicians on the dates with his daring inventions, different on each take.
Of Garner's spectacular ability to improvise the piano parts during the actual recording with the orchestra, Stevens comments: "Erroll is a natural musician, born and brought up in the field of Jazz. He has a fantastic ear, a harmonic and melodic sense that won't stop, and a facile technique which will get him anywhere he wants to go. He had an electric effect on the entire orchestra which pushed performances to their peak. Most jazz performers play in one key throughout an arrangement no matter how long it is. Not Garner. He is pianistically at home and comfortable in any key. In fact, polytonalities hold no terrors for him. On several occasions we spread the orchestra through two tonalities sounding simultaneously, and his line never wavered-in truth, this exciting sound seemed to open up new vistas for him."
Garner, the pianist, as displayed here, is as strongly individual and unpredictable as ever. His sweeping piano within the large orchestra produces results that are bound to influence piano-with orchestra music in years to come. While dominating the proceedings with his complete individuality, Garner also is OF and IN the orchestra so completely that they seem to become one entity.
This album work is more than a brilliant auxiliary to the film, A NEW KIND OF LOVE. For the film goer, it will joyously highlight the picture. But the album stands by itself as a significant musical collection, with Garner's new themes destined to take their place in the world of contemporary music, and his renditions of the film's standards giving vintage songs a new flavor.
This collection abounds in wonderful music, richly played. A NEW KIND OF LOVE projects Garner's auspicious debut in the film medium and points the way to further use of his melodic fund of talent in films, television, and in the theater. — MARTHA GLASER