A few days after I posted my Music Monday about Erroll Garner I was playing my regular gig at Novita in Metuchen NJ when a gentleman came in and sat at the table right in front of the piano. I love to people watch while playing the piano, so I’m checking everyone out and I can tell this man is really into the music. He’s smiling and bobbing his head, and clapping after every solo and every tune. When we finished the set I stopped by his table to thank him for coming out and enjoying the music and we began talking. He discovered me online a few days ago and after watching some Youtube clips decided to come out and see my show. I was appreciative but I was really thirsty and about to walk away from his table when he says, “We have two things in common: we both love Erroll Garner and Norman OK.” (Norman OK is my hometown). I was floored! Plenty of people love one or the other, but never the combination!
I didn’t know what to say; I think I was just staring at him in shock because he continued and said: “Actually I wrote the book on Erroll Garner.” This shocked me even more because I have an extensive Jazz library and I’ve never HEARD of a book about Erroll Garner. At first I thought, maybe he means it as a figure of speech? But, No! I was wrong! I was talking to none other than Jim Doran, author of Erroll Garner: The Most Happy Piano. He’s actually in the documentary about Garner which I told you about a few weeks ago, “No One Can Hear You Read” as well. It was amazing to sit with him and hear stories of seeing E.G. perform and hanging out with him over the years. It felt very special to me that this gentleman who had known E.G. and watched him perform so many times was at my gig in NJ to see me. It always makes me smile when I realize how small the Jazz Community really is, and I’m so happy to be apart of it.
Jim told me that before the book went out of print he saved a few copies and one of them was for me. I received it in the mail last week.
As we continued talking he shared with me that he went to college at the University of Oklahoma (in Norman OK) and spent many happy years in my hometown. Jim even donated a Bosendorfer piano to the music school at OU a few years ago.
Sometimes in this business it can feel like fighting a never-ending battle: booking gigs, promoting gigs, struggling, struggling, struggling all the time; and it’s easy to get separated from the joy of making people happy by sharing the music. Meeting people like Jim and sharing my love of this music with them is the reason I do what I do, and I’m so thankful that last week he came out to my gig and reminded me of that.