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Album Review

There are far too few recordings of top-notch jazz singers backed solely by equally talented pianists, so this onetime meeting of George Shearing and Carmen McRae proves to be magical. Shearing recorded solo piano sessions a number of times during his long career, though he rarely played unaccompanied for a vocalist, with the exception of his meetings with Mel Tormé. McRae also had a prolific career and is still in great voice interpreting this standard-heavy collection. Shearing's inventive chord substitutions in "Too Late Now" are a treat, with the singer making a delayed entrance. Shearing is rollicking in "Gentleman Friend" (the album's only uptempo track), which also features McRae doing a bit of scatting. The lesser-known "Cloudy Morning" finds the pianist in a bit of an impressionist mood and also sharing the vocals, while McRae's powerful interpretation of "More Than You Know" is another gem.

Biography

Born: 13 August 1919 in London, England

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

For a long stretch of time in the 1950s and early '60s, George Shearing had one of the most popular jazz combos on the planet -- so much so that, in the usual jazz tradition of distrusting popular success, he tended to be underappreciated. Shearing's main claim to fame was the invention of a unique quintet sound, derived from a combination of piano, vibraphone, electric guitar, bass, and drums. Within this context, Shearing would play in a style he called "locked hands," which he picked up and refined...
Full Bio

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