“To him, to play…was life.”

Born in Pittsburgh 1921, Erroll Garner was one of six children. He began playing piano at age three and wound up with a career that lasted over four decades.

Erroll Garner: No One Can Hear You Read is a remarkable story and an easy one to recommend. His achievements are numerous, and the more the documentary reveals the more impressed we become with this piano virtuoso who could not read a lick of sheet music. Historical triumphs aside, what helps clinch this recommendation is Garner’s music.

It’s odd to say you can feel the emotion of the person playing the music, but that’s exactly what happens when Garner takes to the keys. The “Little Giant,” as he became known, was happiest at the piano and it’s something we can absolutely hear. Interviews with his family, fellow musicians, and people he inspired comprise the film’s 56 minute runtime. Garner’s story has long waited to be told, and we owe it to ourselves to listen.

Due to the age of the source material, the 1.33:1 full frame visuals are expectedly dodgy, with haloing, soft focus, and grain marring the transfer. The sadder aspect of this release is the audio is the simple Dolby 2.0 Stereo track, not at all befitting a musical genius. One can only hope Erroll Garner: No One Can Hear You Read becomes a huge success and prompts First Run to remaster the disc.

There are a few bonus features, including a director’s commentary, extended interviews, and a featurette on Misty. The video clips are very short, and you can breeze through them in about 10 minutes total.

Erroll Garner: No One Can Hear You Read is the story of an unsung hero of jazz, one who broke the color barrier and left an indelible mark on the musical landscape. The film is quick, informative, and contains some of the most joyful music you will ever hear.

THE VERDICT

Not guilty.

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