Martha before Erroll: Location and the Archive | Erroll Garner Tuesdays

The original model for this (my final) post was to explore the term “location.” As a meditation on my four-month experience as a student interacting with Garner materials in the University Archives, I intended to unpack the various notions of the archive as a site, creator, and agent of location.

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The Award and the Archive | Erroll Garner Tuesdays Week Six

In Garner’s case, the archive is saturated with awards illuminating two reoccurring tropes: pianist and Misty. Garner is reconstructed through these tropes in the archive; he becomes them. The saturation of the facsimiles of judgment creates a concentric dialogue inscribing a history whose context is removed. A narrative takes hold, but context is lost. There is incompleteness in this narrative. The question cannot help but be posed: what do the awards leave unsaid; beyond a pianist and Misty, who was Erroll Garner?

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Three Shades of Martha | Erroll Garner Tuesdays Week Five

We commonly recognize Martha Glaser as the manager who staunchly defended Erroll Garner against the challenging business culture of the music industry. Her job was to make his life as bearable and enjoyable as possible. And in this regard, she often succeeded. Through an analysis of their correspondence with one another, we learn that Glaser possessed qualities that separated her from other music managers of her time.

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"Look At Me" | Erroll Garner Tuesdays Week Four

Erroll Garner’s 1954 composition “Misty” was a ubiquitous standard that dominated the global jukebox. Singer Johnny Mathis sold a million copies of his vocal rendition from 1959.  It won Country and Western singer Ray Stevens a Grammy Award in 1976 in the Best Arrangement category. The Association for Composers, Artists and Performers (ASCAP) named it as one of the twenty-five most performed standards of the 20th Century, trailing only “Satin Doll” as the most performed jazz song of the past sixty years.  Many a singer made their career crooning this memorable and evocative melody, which begins on the Major 7th of the opening E flat chord (an unusual and challenging choice for a ballad).

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Garner Couture | Erroll Garner Tuesdays Week Three

Six pressed tailored shirts of pastel colors that have been transformed to a lighter hue from age 
Two gold Armex pocket watches, 
Three gold zippo lighters, 
Thirteen cuff links of semi-precious stones, three rings of semi-precious stones, 
Four gold broaches, 
One orange tie, 
One bright pink zodiac tie, 
Three money clips, 
 one inscription of “passing through”, 
   one inscription of “money tree”, 
     one inscription “bitch”… 

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Play Misty For Me | Erroll Garner Tuesdays Week Two

A tale of suspense and horror, the film Play Misty for Me features elements of eerie romance with a tinge of jazz. And at the forefront is none other than jazz pianist Erroll Garner and his heart-warming ballad “Misty.” Directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, the 1971 thriller conspicuously alludes to the Garner classic within its very title. Specifically, the phrase “play ‘Misty’ for me” refers to an ominous request made by a mysterious caller (Evelyn Draper played by Jessica Walter) to disc jockey Dave Garver (Eastwood). His iconic response emerges during the concluding scene: “And now here’s a pretty one for lonely lovers on a cool, cool night. It’s the great Erroll Garner classic, Misty. And this one is especially for Evelyn.” As the camera zooms out over Carmel Bay, the viewer sees Evelyn’s dead body strewn upon the rocks. The image is accompanied by a performance of the titular piece by Garner with orchestra and rhythm section.

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Magnificent Obsession | Erroll Garner Tuesdays Week One

Beginning this week, we will be reposting a series of articles written by music doctoral students in the University of Pittsburgh seminar titled Music, Media, and the Archive: Jazz Collections of Pittsburgh. They will present short essays examining a single object from the Erroll Garner Jazz Archives located at the University of Pittsburgh. Their posts will not only describe the items under consideration, but offer interpretations, questions, and surrounding contexts.

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Christian Sands joins the Jazz Project.

Octave Music Licensing, LLC is excited and proud to announce a new collaboration between The Erroll Garner Jazz Project and Mack Avenue recording artist Christian Sands. As Creative Ambassador and Co-Producer, Sands will help to illuminate Erroll Garner’s cultural legacy and bring his music to a new generation of fans through performance programs, recording projects and educational initiatives.

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Susan Rosenberg