Mike Garson’s Jazz Hat
Mike Garson, piano
What do Freddie Hubbard, Stan Getz, Elvin Jones, Lee Konitz, Stanley Clarke, Eddie Daniels, Joe Farrell, David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, The Smashing Pumpkins, Gwen Stefani, Seal, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Martha Reeves (to name a few) have in common? The answer is, Mike Garson has played with them all!.
These have been called “The fastest fingers in jazz.” David Bowie, for whom Garson has long been music director, says, “He’s the best rock & roll pianist I know.” Recording group Free Flight took advantage of his classical training, and Hollywood calls when it needs a virtuoso assoluto. In short, Mike Garson is a phenomenon, able to mimic Bill Evans or Liberace on command, or to soothe an audience with New Age hypnotics. But he’s at his very best wearing his “jazz hat.”
Supported by a stellar cast of Brian Bromberg (acoustic bass), Ralph Humphries (drums) and Eric Marienthal (alto saxophone), Garson turns in a memorable set of originals and imaginative arrangements of standards. Most tracks were previously available on RR-53-—long out of print—plus, for this re-release, we’ve added Garson’s “take no prisoners” improvisation on Gershwin themes—also long out of print. The package is graced by his own computer art. Is there no limit to Garson’s talent?
Everyone at RR thinks this is one of our finest jazz productions. Recorded acoustically at the Oxnard, California, Civic Auditorium, Mike Garson’s Jazz Hat was captured in three-dimensional, high-resolution HDCD sound by RR’s resident guru, “Prof.” Keith Johnson, recipient of seven GRAMMY® nominations for engineering.
On This Recording
- All Blues
- It’s You Or No One
- A Song For You
- Waltz for Bill
- A Night in Tunisia
- A Gershwin Fantasia
- Count Your Blessings
“Jazz Hat combines pianist Mike Garson’s legendary 15-minute solo improvisation on Gershwin themes, released in 1994 as a “direct-to-CD” single (RR-54CD), and most of an earlier “Record To Die For,” The Oxnard Sessions, Volume Two (RR-53CD), Garson’s 1993 collection of standards and originals with a small group. (To make room for the Gershwin, Garson’s “Rebirth” and the two bonus tracks on Vol.2 from the 1990 sessions for Vol.1 have been omitted; Volume One of thi series our “Recording of the Month” for June 1991.) Erstwhile David Bowie sideman Garson’s extraordinary facility with the keyboard has been documented many times in these pages; suffice it to say that his technique is always subservient to his music making. Alto-sax player Eric Marienthal’s soaring reading of Leon Russell’s “A Song for You” has long been a favorite demonstration track, but the highlights for me are Miles Davis’ “All Blues,” which features nonpareil bassist Brian Bromberg, and the breakneck reworking of Art Blakey’s “A Night in Tunisia.” Recorded in 1992 by Keith Johnson, the sound shows no audible sign of its vintage, offering superb clarity, luminously natural tone colors, and the sense of four musicians performing in a believable space, in this case the Civic Auditorium of Oxnard, California. A 75-minute master class in how to capture both the impact of and the space around a small jazz ensemble.” —John Atkinson, Stereophile