Thursday, May 22, 2014
A Kind Of Knack, Backed Up By Prodigious Practice
Erroll Garner was short. He used to sit on phone books to perform. He could play the piano when he was three years old. Somehow or another the high school he attended in Pittsburgh managed to disgorge Garner as well as Billy Strayhorn and Ahmad Jamal. I think I would be worthwhile to drink from the water fountain there, as there must be some sort of Lourdes thing going on.
The music union wouldn't let him in because he couldn't read music. They made him an honorary member after he got famous anyway. Unions are like that. He composed Misty, which is so famous and popular that no one likes it.
He had a beatific face, like a Buddha. He mumbled and grunted without thinking while he played. I recognize the effect. If you've ever watched a juggler, they can't look at any one ball or all of them drop. The juggler must look straight ahead and see all of them at the same time. It is a kind of knack, backed up by prodigious practice. He is looking at a place in the distance he needs to reach and cannot pay attention to what happens any nearer.
He was dead before he was old. He was alive the whole time, though. How many men can claim that?