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Favorite Things

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Album Review

George Shearing's solo piano CD Favorite Things doesn't hide his early background in the study of classical music, but at times it celebrates it. The only truly arranged piece on the album, "My Favorite Things," incorporates a portion of a Scarlatti sonata, while "Not You Again" hints at Tchaikovsky. "Taking a Chance on Love" was inspired by Brahms' E major Intermezzo, while Artie Shaw's "Moonray" has the character of a Baroque fugue. Many of the other tracks have an impressionistic flavor, especially the dreamy take of Dave Brubeck's "Summer Song" and the haunting treatment of Matt Dennis' "Angel Eyes." The pianist adds a warm, friendly vocal to the finale, "It Amazes Me." George Shearing was clearly enjoying himself during the two days of studio sessions which produced this CD; fans of solo jazz piano are invited to do the same.


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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