Erroll Garner, “No More Shadows” from Nightconcert
In June, Mack Avenue Records released a never-before-heard version of “No More Shadows” by Erroll Garner, in celebration of the pianist’s 97th birthday. The song is included on the previously unissued live album Nightconcert, which was released July 13. Nightconcert was originally recorded at a midnight concert at the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Holland, and presents the jazz great at the peak of his musical genius.
“No More Shadows” is a characteristically regal Garner tune, containing many of the pianist’s trademark flourishes and techniques. The song begins with an unaccompanied piano intro full of heavy left-hand chords and tumbling right-hand lines. It’s stormy, percussive and harmonically dense. But when the bass and drums enter a minute later, the mood lightens dramatically, and suddenly, Garner is rippling across the keyboard as if playing the harp. That contrast of moods comes to a head at the song’s midpoint, when the group engages in a gently surging stop-time section. Historically, the stop-time motif has been one of Garner’s most well-known musical tactics. Here, it’s executed to perfection. Your whole body anticipates the arrival of Garner’s next flawlessly timed beat.
What a joy it must have been to see this jazz legend live. For those of us who haven’t, Nightconcert may be the next best thing.