The posthumous flow of rare and rousing Garner resumes with this double delight: two albums, on CD for the first time, on one 75-minute disc. At the piano, Garner, who died in 1977, was a geyser of melodic ideas, ebullient chords, extravagant (often eccentric) introductions and tidally irresistible rhythm. Steeped in the blues, he made happy music, and though some of his merry flourishes and rafter-shaking windups may seem corny today (perhaps because imitators have hammered them into cliches), his playing is deeply felt and never merely showy.
These two albums present the pianist at his best. Kick, from '67, backs him with an unusual ensemble of guitar, bass, drums and two conga players. On Gemini, from '72, Garner plays harpsichord as well as piano on "Tea for Two," exploring the novel instrument in tingly single notes and tight jangling phrases. Of the 19 cuts, eight are Garner originals. The recording quality is especially good—with each instrument spatially distinct and Garner's piano titanic in the chordal clusters and spangling in the treble. (Telarchive)