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.