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Jazz legend Linton Garner's hands were "plump with music," recalls friend

03/21/2015 05:44 EDT | Updated 05/21/2015 05:59 EDT
Vancouver jazz legend Linton Garner "was like music," according to those who knew the pianist's love of jazz.

"How can I describe it — when you shook his hand, it was like they were plump with music," recalled filmmaker Colin Browne, who made a documentary in 2003 about Garner and his tribute to his younger brother, Erroll Garner. "It was really quite wonderful."

On Wednesday, those who loved Garner's music will celebrate what would have been the pianist's 100th birthday. He died in 2003 just before his 88th birthday.

Browne told Hot Air's Margaret Gallagher that he remembers Garner as a generous man who adored his more famous younger brother Erroll, a piano prodigy. In 2002, Garner performed a memorable concert in honour of Erroll at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival.

"[Garner] was asked, always, 'Were you jealous of your brother?', but he never, ever was," said Browne. "He just loved him and admired him and he saw this prodigious talent he had, and recognized it."

Garner grew up in Pittsburgh and started studying piano at the age of eight. He played the trumpet, too, until cracked teeth had him switch to piano.

By the 1940s, Garner had moved to New York City and was playing with the likes of Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. But when work dried up in the late 1960s, he moved to Montreal, where the jazz scene was lively and well.

"He felt very comfortable in Canada," said Browne. "He didn't feel the same kind of racial prejudice. He felt welcomed. He thought, 'This is OK, Canada. I can be more free.'"

In 1974, Garner moved to Vancouver, where he became a fixture at the Three Greenhorns and Rossini’s Restaurant. He played regularly almost up until his passing in 2003.

To hear the full episode, click on the audio labelled: Hot Air remembers Linton Garner

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