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The Definitive George Shearing

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Album Review

British-born pianist George Shearing's work for the MGM and Capitol record labels from the late '40s to the early '60s is collected on this 21-track compilation. Beginning with four tracks recorded for MGM in 1949 with his unique quintet of guitar, bass, drums, and vibraphone (which would double the melody he was playing with his right hand), Shearing's piano work is always tasteful and guaranteed to swing. Although the players regularly changed, he stuck with the quintet with vibraphone format throughout this period. Of special note are the three tracks included where Shearing backs up vocalists: 1951's "You're Driving Me Crazy (What Did I Do?)" featuring Billy Eckstine, 1959's "You Came a Long Way From St. Louis" with Peggy Lee, and 1960's "The Nearness of You" featuring Nancy Wilson. There are also two solo tracks ("Tenderly" from 1950 and "Memories of You" from 1960) and one trio track ("What Is This Thing Called Love" from 1962). This disc does a very nice job of capturing the laid-back sound of Shearing and is a good place to start a collection of his work. It is also recommended to anyone looking for an album of quiet, romantic piano tunes.

Customer Reviews

Oh man pick yourself up

Cool jazz, really really cool, frosty, smooth, dacquiri crushed ice and silken chord changes with elevator music vibes and you just can't get riled when listening to Lullaby of Birdland, East of the Sun, or any of this creamy celebration of life.

Be Careful It's My Ears

Just playing with a great Shearing melody, but this is not the kind of mix I like. It contains some very old quartet sessions that are noisy, quite audibly "thin", and while historic, get in the way of being mixed with some later 60's remastered sets.

This all leads to confusion as to the audible settings and also to the mood of the listening experience. It is kind of like listening to a recoding of Caruso from the 30's and mixing it with a 60's type session were that possible.

The tunes selected are great, but to prove a point, the trio track does little good for the Peggy Lee session. As a one disc fits all effort, buy one of the Capitol or Concord "Best of" or the remarkable telarc quintet issues.


Born: August 13, 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...
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