But words simply don't do justice to explaining how he played, because Garner could do so many things with brilliance. You have to listen to him creating a memorable listening event to really begin to understand how special he was. One of my favorites, Gershwin's "It Ain't Necessarily So," helps prove the point.
He was so short that he sat on a phone book (you can see it in the video below) but he was so comfortable at the keyboard that he sometimes seemed to not even give it his full attention. While playing, he would occasionally look around the room, smiling and talking — but the music was always on target.
Garner was difficult for other jazz musicians to classify, but they enjoyed working with him — even if they had to pay close attention to his musical introductions, which might contain some surprises. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s he worked with many of the best, including Charlie Parker and Billy Taylor, but mostly he performed with his own small group, recording dozens of records and remaining solidly popular.
Most of his hits were jazz or pop standards, but they were given the unique Garner treatment and often found new life. Songs such as "Body And Soul," "Night And Day," and "All The Things You Are" were very different with his interpretations.
In the 1970s declining health forced his retirement, and he died in 1977, but he should be remembered as a very talented and distinctly different jazz legend.