Thursday, October 1, 2015

Erroll Garner mystery phrase

It’s driving me crazy, and now it’s driving Elaine crazy too. Can anyone identify the source of this musical phrase? In my mind it says early twentieth century . I thought it might be from Felix Arndt’s “Nola,” but no.

Erroll Garner builds a chorus of “Lullaby of Birdland” from variations on this phrase. You can hear what I’m describing at the 1:00 mark.

Thanks to Elaine for writing out the music.


3:14 p.m.: Elaine found the answer via Facebook: the phrase is from “Narcissus,” by Ethelbert Nevin (1891). Here is an amusing rendition. Nevin also wrote the music for “Mighty Lak’ a Rose.”

Thanks to Kevin Hart for identifying “Narcissus” and for pointing to one of its great turns in popular culture. In Our Gang Follies of 1936 the piece serves as dancing music for the Flory-Dory Sixtette: Spanky, Alfalfa, Buckwheat, and company. And that is why, I realize, I was able to recognize this musical phrase. Watch here. The dance scene begins at 15:53.

A related post
Erroll Garner, The Complete Concert by the Sea

comments: 1

Elaine Fine said...

The music is in the IMSLP!