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Subseries 1. Sound Recordings

Scope and Content Notes:

The sound recordings are currently not available for research access.

Section: Reel-to-Reel Tapes

Scope and Content Notes:

The library is largely comprised of 1950’s-1970’s reel-to-reel master, safety and unknown tape recordings (about three quarters mono and a quarter stereo), recorded on 3-track, 4-track, 8-track, 16-track and 24-track machines, illustrating the advancement in recording technology throughout the years. Duplicate master tapes are usually either safety tapes and/or those tapes with different sound mixes or arrangements that were then listened to select a final version. In the Garner archive mixes can be found with brass overdubs, different guitar, piano and bass balances, etc. There are a few 1980’s duplicate recordings that were copied for unknown reasons, most likely for remastered re-issues. Most of the tape boxes have handwritten dates, locations, relevant numbers, song listings and production notes. Approximately three quarters of the tapes were recorded on ¼” tape and another fifth or so on ½”, with the remaining group on 1” and 2”.

Many of the recordings feature Garner in the studio for Columbia, Atlantic, BMG, CBS, Gotham Recording, Polygram, Octave Records, Associated Recording Studios, Capitol, A&R, Blue Note, Mercury, RCA, etc. Notable albums include “Erroll Garner Plays Gershwin and Kern,” “Dreamstreet,” “That’s My Kick,” “Up In Erroll’s Room,” “Feeling Is Believing,” “Magician,” “ A New Kind Of Garner,” “Eleven,” “Movie Favorites,” (Japanese), “A New Kind Of Love” soundtrack, “A Night At The Movies,” a recording in an Australian studio most likely done on tour, plus the live recording from the landmark “Concert By The Sea.”

Others include Garner live performances, compilation tapes of Garner compositions, solo piano sessions that have not been released, versions of “I Can’t Get Started” and “Just Blues” (and others) with Garner on the harpsichord, plus a number of tapes entitled “noodling” where Garner is simply improvising. There is a 1956 session with Nat Pierce doing arrangements for the orchestra, original tunes, not full songs, sketches and rehearsals. Other well-known Garner songs include “Misty,” including out-takes, “A Fine Romance,” “Dreamstreet,” “Dreamy,” “Gaslight,” etc.

Television, radio and live concert performances include WHUR Howard University, The Tonight Show, Campus Concert, One World Performance, 1959 DJ convention, Dick Cavett Show, Pearl Bailey Show, 1956 Copenhagen radio performance, TV performance in Stockholm, Sweden, 1958 Detroit Masonic Temple, Arthur Godfrey Show, Godfrey Time, the Jackie Gleason Show, Balletap Show, the game show “Play Your Hunch,” where he plays three songs and writes on impromptu; the 1963 Seattle World’s Fair “One World” Concert, Village Gate, Amsterdam Concert (including a stereo master) and a 1958 Burlington, VT performance.

Each tape holds between 1-20 songs, with most from 3-10, some with production notes. A database exists which lists each tape, song, length, notes, format, band or solo, sound quality, etc. for most of the recordings where applicable.

Section: Cassettes

Scope and Content Notes:

There are approximately 950 cassettes in the Garner archive, some from live and television performances, such as a 1964 Garner performance in Belgium; 1962 Holland performance, cassette reading “Four Original Tunes,” Garner playing solo piano, 1952 Montreal performance, 1966 in NYC, 1964 “Jazz Nocturne,” 1975 DC performance, 1940’s Concerts, 1963 European concerts, Steve Allen Show, BBC, 1950 Woody Herman program, 1975 Birthday Party, 1958 Sy Johnson “For Erroll” Tribute, 1972 All-Stars with Coleman Hawkins and Jimmy Heath; Phil Schap, “Jazz Sundae,” 1974 Tonight Show; Gary Giddins Show, 1972 Australia; 1948 With John Collins & Slam Stewart in Paris 1948; a tape marked “Erroll’s Last Show,” February 21, 1975 at Mr. Kelly’s Tonight Show with June 1972 Tonight Show appearance with Flip Wilson subbing for Carson; studio performances, Garner bantering with band, solo work, numerous original compositions and several versions of “Misty.”

Garner interviews include one from the Arthur Godfrey Show, NPR “Morning Edition; an interview on Cape Cod, NPR Jazz Profile, 1966 Garner interview with George Shearing and Steve Allen; a 1966 “The Joy of A Genius” NPR Jazz Profile on Garner; etc.

Also, there are numerous interviews regarding Garner’s music and legacy with Martha Glaser, Art Blakey, George Avakian, Joe Turner, Red Callendar Billy Taylor, Carl McVicker, Slam Stewart, Teddy Wilson and Illinois Jacquet. There is also January 7, 1977 recording of Garner’s funeral service, a 1988 Ron Della Chiesa WGBH tribute, 1999 “A Portrait of Erroll Garner” program from the Netherlands.

It appears that there is some, but not a large amount of content overlap with the acetates and tapes. Therefore, there is a lot of original material, about half interviews either with Garner, Glaser or other celebrities about Garner; approximately a quarter are show performances and a quarter studio work and solo performances.

Section: Acetates, Discs, Test Pressings and Promotional Records

Scope and Content Notes:

The Garner archive holds a total of approximately (652) discs, including approximately (333) acetates, (162) test pressings, (77) Muzak 16” discs, (42) 14” reference stampers and (38) promotional records. Most have been digitized. Many of the discs are in their original sleeves, often with handwritten annotations by the engineer or producer. Condition ranged from good to excellent, with most very good with minor wear from age and use.

Acetates and test pressings were produced from the master tapes, often in quantities of 10-20 or sometimes more. Acetate discs are created by using a recording lathe to cut a sound-modulated groove into the surface of a special lacquer-coated blank disc. The purpose of the acetate is for the producer to listen to the song on a record surface and determine whether it is of sufficient quality and or balance to go into production. Sometimes they were made for special purposes, and were seldom for sale to the general public.

Stampers, for the two sides of a record are then placed in an oven-like machine where labels are inserted, are basically test pressings on disc. The pressings can be in any quantity, and a stamper usually can make at least 1000 copies unless it breaks because of the heat and needs to be re-done.

Muzak discs are better known as transcription discs, are generally 16” size and usually date from the 1940’s-1950’s, used for radio show recordings.