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Michael Garrick

Born: May 30, 1933 | Died: November 11, 2011    Primary Instrument: Piano

Michael Garrick

Michael Garrick's adolescent love affair with jazz is a tale shared by much of middle class England in the post-war years, when national service was often the only means to have this affair requited. Swing and boogie-woogie held a “magnetic attraction, but I had no means of getting near it,” he says; Pine Top Smith and Meade Lux Lewis (he will still rattle off Honky Tonk Train Blues if you let him), Lionel Hampton and Harry James, whose music “thrilled me to death,” all crossed his path leaving indelible stains on his youthful psyche. He had fallen for the siren's song, did not know what jazz was, but knew that he wanted to play it. To this day he is rather proud of the fact that he was expelled from Eleanor B. Franklin-Pike's piano lessons for inflicting Glenn Miller's In the Mood upon fellow pupils at a musical soiree; but more seriously his parents disapproved of such high spirits and tried to put him off. In deference to this musical apartheid both at home and within the educational establishment, Garrick was adroit enough to sidestep the issue by not studying music at university, where musical faculties displayed the sign “bebop not spoken here.” Yet his ambition to become a dance band pianist, or even better to play jazz, was undiminished, and to this end he practised his arpeggios, put himself through grade eight exams after national service, and embarked on a degree in English literature at University College, London.

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