Erroll Garner: Summertime
Erroll Garner (piano)
Body & Soul (Columbia 47035)
Erroll Garner (piano),
John Simmons (bass), Shadow Wilson (drums).
Composed by George Gershwin & DuBose Heyward.
Recorded: New York, January 3, 1952
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Erroll Garner's Columbia version of "Summertime" sounds like a playful romp, but there is a lot of musical substance beneath the surface. Garner's introduction is in straight eighth notes. While doubtlessly shortened for recording time considerations, it still makes an effective contrast to the sinuous Garner strut tempo that follows. In the theme statement and his ensuing solo, Garner uses triplet patterns both as further contrast to the introduction and to add a sassy quality to his interpretation. Garner's mastery of dynamics is on full display with the pianist bringing the group's volume up and down through his touch at the keyboard. And as a balance to the introduction, the closing chorus uses a simple quarter-note pattern (in more or less straight time) as a shout chorus, which replaces the restatement of the original theme. At the end, all that is left of Gershwin's original is the opening phrase, which Garner plays over the final held chord.
Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe