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George Shearing: Light, Airy and Swinging

Track List

>Love Walked In
>Too Close For Comfort
>Speak Low
>Beautiful Friendship
>Once Upon A Summertime
>Cynthia's In Love

Album Remarks & Appraisals:

Does what it says: light, airy and swinging piano jazz. George Shearing’s 1973 debut album on MPS meant a return to the time of the pianist’s breakthrough as a jazz musician. Featuring bassist Andy Simpkins and Crusaders drummer Stix Hooper, it was the first trio album Shearing had recorded in several years. He had become an international name with his quintet featuring piano, vibraphone, guitar, bass, and drums. The unison lines played by the three melody instruments became known as the “Shearing Sound”. Sometimes referred to as “cocktail music”, his style created a congenial melodic contrast to bebop. However, the eclectic Shearing had also mastered the hectic, sometimes dissonant playing styles of such bebop protagonists as Bud Powell. Shearing was born in London in 1919 and died in New York in 2011. Blind from birth on, he began learning piano at the age of three; after classical training, and a successful early career in England including work with Stéphane Grappelli and Leonard Feather, he immigrated to the USA in 1947. There he played with, among others, Oscar Pettiford, the Montgomery brothers, and Toots Thielemans. Singers Peggy Lee, Ernestine Anderson, and Carmen McRae loved Shearing as accompanist. His international hit “Lullaby of Birdland” continues to bring in royalties to this day. On this MPS LP Shearing demonstrates his versatility in trio. His playing is reminiscent of Errol Garner on the title theme “Love Walks In”, and on “Too Close for Comfort” Shearing shows off his characteristic block chord technique.”

Album Notes

Liner Note Author: Hans Hielscher.

Recording information: San Francisco, CA.

George Shearing, after over two decades as leader of his popular Quintet, was largely taken for granted as a pianist. His trio recordings for MPS in the mid-'70s did a lot to salvage and restore his former reputation as a virtuoso and a distinctive player. On this trio set with bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Stix Hooper, Shearing fully investigates a variety of superior standards, particularly "Speak Low," Johnny Mandel's "Emily" and "Beautiful Friendship" which are given the most extensive explorations of the eight songs; only "Love Walked In" is a holdover from the quintet days. This enjoyable LP is long overdue to be reissued on CD. ~ Scott Yanow


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