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Linton Garner Dies

Pianist and arranger Linton Garner, the older brother of pianist Erroll Garner, died March 6 of heart failure in Vancouver, B.C. He was 87.

Born in 1915 in Greensboro, N.C., Linton grew up in Pittsburgh and was the oldest of four Garner children, brother Erroll and sisters Martha, Ruth and Berniece. Linton began playing piano at 8 and took up cornet two years later. He later switched from cornet to trumpet and played in local bands, which included Billy Eckstine and Art Blakey, until a tooth injury forced him to quit the horn and focus solely on piano.

Linton never attained the level of fame that his brother did. The only album under his name that we’re left with is Garner Plays Garner, a 1959 session released in 2001 on the Enrica label. (It is possible that tapes from an unreleased leader date for RCI exist somewhere.) Linton was a frequent sideman and worked with a number of jazz luminaries over the course of his career-Dizzy Gillespie, Fletcher Henderson and Billy Eckstine to name three. Examples of his piano playing and arranging can be heard on Gillespie’s Dizzier and Dizzier, the Savoy collection Timeless Billy Eckstine and Miles Davis’ Boppin’ the Blues (Black Lion), among other discs.

Settling in Vancouver in 1974, Linton contributed to the city’s jazz scene and was playing five nights a week at Rossini’s, a local club, until he became ill two months ago.

Linton in survived by two sons. A memorial will be held on his birthday, March 24, at St. Andrew’s Wesley Church, 1012 Nelson, Vancouver. A birthday celebration for Linton at Rossini’s planned prior to his death will still be held.

Originally Published