Born: July 2, 1954 Primary Instrument: Piano
Garry was born in Montclair New Jersey where at the age of 10 he began piano lessons. His 7th grade teacher gave him his first jazz record “The Oscar Peterson Trio” which instilled in him the love of jazz. For a few years he played the standards and some light classical pieces. He entered high school at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, New Jersey where his musical life would change forever. In church at St Benedict’s Garry met The “Queen Of Jazz “Mary Lou Williams”. She offered him lessons for free and took him under her wing.
For the next few years Garry went into NY City, up to 145th St. in Harlem, to study with Mary Lou. It was there that he learned of Miles, Monk, Bud Powell and Cecil Taylor whom Mary was doing a duo concert with at Carnegie Hall. Through a connection of Garry’s mother’s, Mary Lou was asked to perform her mass “Mary Lou’s Mass” at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NY City. This was the first time that a Catholic jazz mass would be performed in a major cathedral.
As a junior in high school Garry took the Summer Jazz Workshop at Berklee College Of Music. This is where he realized that music and jazz would be his calling. After high school graduation he returned to Berklee where he met his current teacher of 34 years, Charlie Banacos. After one year at Berklee fellow musician Kenny Werner recommended Garry for a gig in Bermuda as the pianist at The Princess Hotel. He lived on the island with his lady for three years while playing 6 nights a week for various shows and singers.
In 1976 Garry returned to NY and started gigging around the city. He played with Charli Persip’s big band. There he was discovered by bebop trumpet legend Red Rodney who asked him to form a band. During this time Garry played with various small groups and singers. Through the club Jilly’s, Frank Sinatra heard of Garry and asked him to play at his apartment at the Waldorf Astoria. Although he never performed with Mr Sinatra in concert, Garry was asked on numerous occasions to play for Frank at his private parties. During these years Garry joined The Gerry Mulligan Big Band, The Mel Lewis Quartet and the Joe Morello Quintet performing at the Blue Note In NY City.
Initially, Dial's talent as a pianist earned him a coveted and unique place in jazz history. Ruth Ellington, sister of the great Duke Ellington, enlisted him to perform and record for the Ellington family's personal library the entire Duke Ellington catalog. Many of these compositions would have been lost as they were unperformed and unrecorded.
In the late 1970's Dial spent 10 years with the Red Rodney-Ira Sullivan Quintet, winning widespread acclaim as the primary composer and arranger for these legendary talents. The album Red Rodney, Live at the Village Vanguard was nominated for a Grammy for Best Jazz group in 1980. Ira Does It All (1981), featuring Ira Sullivan, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Instrumentalist. Sprint was chosen as one of the 10 best productions for 1983 by the News & Observer, North Carolina. Rounding out these 10 years Dial's artistic visions are found on all of the releases of the Quintet.
In 1987 Garry Dial's debut release Never Is Now (Continuum Records), performed in a trio format, featuring Joey Baron and Jay Anderson ...showcases his exceptional compositional chops on 12 originals. Dial displays an effortless supreme melodicism on tunes both coherent and open-ended enough to allow for significant participation from his associates.