Magician turned out be Garner’s last studio album and in many respects could be regarded as a fitting epitaph for a pianist who brought much pleasure to jazz followers the world over.
This album carried all his familiar trademarks as there are plenty of grunts and growls to accompany his improvisations, occasional splashes of deliberate “flats” and a degree of liberty taking with other people’s material, all driven along by that metronomic left hand.
The tunes are split 50:50 between the pianist’s originals and imports for the occasion, including Burt Bacharach’s Close To You, which kicks off in an irreverent manner before the familiar melody emerges.
We get a slow blues in the shape of It Gets Better Every Time, preceded by an unusual treatment of Someone To Watch Over Me in medium-tempo Latin mode also containing plenty of bluesy references. One Good Turn is intended as an uplifting gospel piece and Erroll delivers a suitably joyful noise.
Anyone inspired to take the dance floor for a rumba would react positively to the pianist’s vision for Yesterdays and if anyone wants the definitive approach he normally took to standards they need look no further than I Only Have Eyes For You. He does display plenty of gusto on his own Mucho Gusto and we are taken out in bouncy, ebullient fashion via Grill On The Hill.
This reprise for another Garner album only serves to remind us what a true original he was.
(1) (They Long To Be) Close To You; (2) It Gets Better Every Time: (1) Someone To Watch Over Me; Nightwind; (3) One Good Turn; (1) Watch What Happens; Yesterdays; I Only Have Eyes For You; Mucho Gusto; Grill On The Hill (42.17)
(1) Garner (p); Bob Cranshaw (b); Grady Tate (d); José Mangual (cga). Los Angeles, 30-31 October 1973. (2) as (1) but add Jackie Williams (tamb). (3) as (2) but add Norman Gold (org).
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