Erroll Garner — Night Concert
Tom Hook — 62
Ah, the joys of a record reviewer! Two recordings were recently received featuring pianists. The first was a live recording of Erroll Garner’s trio from Amsterdam, Nov. 7, 1964. The second one was of pianist/vocalist Tom Hook, a current recording commemorating Hook’s 62nd anniversary of his birth.
The Garner CD is elegantly packaged –the six-sided fold-out has four different photos of Garner and his group at that event. Liner notes are by jazz journalist-historians Nate Chinen and Robin D. G. Kelly with song descriptions by Christian Sands. Eddie Calhoun, bass, and Kelly Martin, drums, were Garner’s accompanists. As most Garner fans know, and for newer fans the writers explain, Garner did not announce the tunes beforehand. And the program schedule was also unknown to his accompanists. Garner would play an elaborate introduction which, in retrospect, might give a clue to the coming familiar jazz tune. Then, he would go into the familiar melody and one could hear the audience sigh as they recognized the tune. At that time, of course, the accompanists would have recognized the tune, and what key he was playing in, and would start their accompaniment. I won’t name any of the tunes here so as not to spoil the fun for those hip persons who would like to play the guessing game along with the 1964 Dutch audience. Most of those familiar with the Great American Songbook will recognize the majority of the tunes.
Another interesting aspect of the Garner concert was that it started at midnight. The Amsterdam Concertgebouw had been booked for a classical concert earlier that evening so the sell-out jazz crowd enjoyed the concert in the early-morning hours.
Tom Hook’s recording on the Arbors label is a potpourri of musical effort using some of the best New Orleans players in various combinations. On some, he even uses a string section: two violins, viola, cello and string bass. Hook is featured on piano and vocals and is credited with many of the arrangements. Those familiar with New Orleans players will recognize many of the names here. I list only a few here: Bobby Durham, bass and vocals; Ed Metz, drums; Wendell Brunious, trumpet; Tom Fischer, clarinet and sax; Rick Trolsen, trombone. Metz is from the Tampa area rather than New Orleans but he’s a first-call percussionist for many and has been featured on many labels including this Arbors recording.
New Orleans pianist and HBO "Treme" actor Tom McDermott wrote the liner notes along with brief notes and acknowledgement by Hook himself.
The thirteen tunes are listed here so that the reader can appreciate the diversity of the selections, many of which were arranged by the pianist-vocalist headliner.
Songs: Buona Sera; Bounce Me Brother with a Solid Four; Come Fly With Me; Lipstick Traces; Let Them Talk; At the Swing Cats Ball; Someday; My Jug and I; I Never Talk To Strangers; That Old Black Magic; After My Laughter Came Tears; I Hear a Sound (by T. Hook) ; Here’s to Life.
Arbors Records ARCD 19463; arborsrecords.com.
Both these recordings will be available for patron check-out at the Jazz Room of the downtown West Florida Public Library.