The Man From Pittsburg Almost Made Me SmileThursday, September 14, 2017
|Linton Garner & his Peck Horn|
Of late as the weather begins to cool and the prospect of another winter in front of me, it is hard not to be melancholy. It gets worse when I think of how many people I photographed who committed suicide. Today, coming back from a saxophone and cello concert in New Westminster my list of 9 grew to 10 when I remembered yet another one.
I arrived home determined to write a blog with a more positive and cheerful note. And yet this one will be bittersweet as I remember a fine man, pianist Linton Garner, who died when he was 88. He had an easy smile and a a reserved demeanour.
He had a sense of humour and instinctively knew what to say when I asked the right question.
Once at Rossini’s in Kitsilano, a jazz joint he often played in I took my friend Patricia Hutter then one of the bassists at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. I asked a question of Garner, knowing how he was going to answer.
“Linton,” I asked, “I understand you are from Pittsburg. Who else is from there?”
His reply was the usual one, “There’s Roy Eldridge, Ahmad Jamal, Art Blakey, George Benson, Kenny Clarke, Stanley and Terry Turrentine, Ray Brown, Billy Strayhorn, Earl Hines, my brother Erroll, Billy Eckstine…””
When it seemed he was going to go on forever, I interrupted, “Who isn’t from Pittsburg? “
His answer was, “There’s J.J. Johnson, he’s from Indianapolis.”
Below is my corrected (sort of) notes of my interview with Garner. They are fine, interesting but I am not quite sure if I want to smile.