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.