British Pianist-Composer Michael Garrick Dies at 78

A five-decade career as a prolific musician and educator

Michael Garrick, 78, a popular British pianist, composer and educator, died Nov. 11 in England following a heart operation. Garrick’s career spanned more than five decades, beginning in the late 1950s when he fused poetry recitations and jazz in concerts in the U.K. He later led a quintet that included the Jamaican alto saxophonist Joe Harriott and trumpeter Shake Keane.

Garrick spent four years (1965-69) as the pianist in the Don Rendell-Ian Carr quintet and led his own sextet in the late ’60s. Garrick’s jazz-choral composition, Jazz Praises, an extended religious work for his sextet and a large choir, was performed at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

Garrick recorded numerous albums as a leader beginning in 1959 (many for his own Jazz Academy label) and was still working until shortly before his death—his most recent release was 2010’s Tone Poems. Garrick was also an active jazz educator, teaching at the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College of Music.

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