Linton Garner

Born: March 25, 1915
Greensboro, NC, USA
Died: March 6, 2003
Vancouver BC

Remembering Linton Garner

©2003 Len Dobbin

Garner was born in Greensboro, N.C. on March 25, 1915 and grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa. He was the older brother of Erroll Garner and three sisters, Martha, Ruth and Berniece, were also pianists. Linton began piano lessons at the age of 8 and later also studied the trumpet, an instrument he played though high school where he encountered Billy Strayhorn who went onto be Duke Ellingtons musical alter ego. Until cracked teeth saw him switch to the piano, he played trumpet in local bands around Pittsburgh, bands that included Billy Eckstine and Art Blakey, who was originally a pianist as well. In the 30s he worked with Burns Campbell and traveled with the Larry Steele revue. He then settled, first in Rochester and then Buffalo, N.Y. In the 40s he led a band in Pittsburgh that was later fronted (with Linton remaining on piano) by Fletcher Henderson. Garner was in the Army from 1943 into 1945 and on his release he joined the Billy Eckstine bebop band in 1946 and continued into 1947 as the bands arranger and pianist. He then settled in NYC and contributed charts to the bebop big band led by Dizzy Gillespie as well as doing a fair amount of recording. From 1947 through 1955 he also worked as an accompanist to comic Timmie Rogers and he also toured with dancer Teddy Hale. He lived in Montclair, N.J. prior to his settling in Montreal in 1962. Earlier he had worked in Matane, Quebec. Here he was heard at spots like The Place for Steaks in Pointe Claire and taught piano and voice. He worked at famed Rockheads Paradise with Vern Isaacs band and also appeared there in the Ebony In Rhythm show as pianist, arranger and musical director. During Expo year, 1967, he played at the Metropole on Sherbrooke Street just west of Bleury. He, along with singer Ed Curry, Fred McHugh and Bill Barwick, worked in a memorable quartet. He also did a recording session for RCI that was never released, one that had Spike McKendry on drums. In 1974 after touring Quebec as an organist with Isaac, he, at the request of percussionist Arni May, who he had met while playing in Ottawa, moved to Vancouver, where he spent the rest of his life a good part of it playing in Mays restaurant, Rossinis. Last year, as part of the 2002 Vancouver International Jazz Festival, he did a concert entitled I Never Said Goodbye, a tribute to his younger brother. Linton is also the focus of a film documentary by Colin Browne.

In October 1946, Linton recorded in a group including Miles Davis, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Connie Wainwright, Tommy Potter, Art Blakey and vocalists Ann Hathaway and Earl Coleman. Those sides are now on the Black Lion release Boppin The Blues released under Miles name. The sides he did with the Billy Eckstine band are on Billy Eckstine 1946-1947 (Classics), the 1947 Dizzy Gillespie band recorded his Minor Walk and in 1948 did his Duff Capers [see Gillespies The Complete RCA Victor Recordings (Bluebird)] and on November 28 of that year he did a session for Dial with Earl Coleman that included Parkers Yardbird Suite. The band on that date, Fats Navarro, Don Lanphere, Jimmy Johnson and Max Roach, also recorded instrumental tracks that day - two memorable versions of Move issued under Navarros name. [See The Fats Navarro Story (Proper Box)]. Sonny Rollins made his recording debut on a January 20, 1949 Babs Gonzales date for Capitol. Professor Bop and Capitolizing had Linton at the piano and also included J.J. Johnson, Bennie Green and Julius Watkins [Weird Lullaby (Blue Note)]. In 1950 he did a date with singer Una Mae Carlisle and in 1959 Garner recorded a trio date as a leader with Al Hall and Jimmie Crawford for the Enrica label, its been reissued on CD in Japan. In recent years in Vancouver, hes recorded with Lorraine Foster [Well Meet Again (Philor)], Christine Duncan [The Vogue Show (A Little Safety Net)], Ross Taggart and Eve Smith, who, as Yvonne Lanauze, recorded the original version of Love You Madly with Duke Ellington.

Recordings as leader:


Linton Garner Trio - Quiet Nights - Cellar Live CL111702

Linton Garner - piano
Russ Botten - bass
Ross Taggart - piano

01 All The Things You Are
02 Corcovado (Quiet Nights)
03 Don't Blame Me
04 It Could Happen To You
05 Just Friends
06 Things Ain't What They Used To Be
07 Days Of Wine And Roses
08 Polka Dots & Moonbeams
09 Blues For Jimmy
See http://vancouverjazz.com/newcd/2006/04/linton-garner-trio.html

Garner plays Garner - Enrica LP2001, Enrica (Jap)32ED5059 [CD] - New York, 1959

Linton Garner (piano)
Al Hall (bass)
Jimmy Crawford (drums)

Fancy loving you
To my liking
Garner come lately
Tent meetin'
Wistfully yours
Fat girl
Alone in my teepee
Hoppin' along
Brother Boggie
Appears on recordings with:
  Billy Eckstine Orchestra 1946
Una Mae Carlisle

Earl Coleman 1945 or 1946 and 1948
Ann Hathaway 1946
Dizzy Gillespie 1947
Fats Navarro 1948
Babs Gonzales 1949
Una Mae Carlisle 1950
Christine Duncan 1997
Ross Taggart 1998
Photo of Linton Garner (June 23, 2002) by Brian Nation

Vancouver Musicians Association