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GEORGE SHEARING

220px-George_Shearing_1959

BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS

Description: Pianist, Arranger, composer, UK
Known For: He has written over 300 compositions and has had multiple albums on the Billboard magazine charts throughout the

Instruments: Piano
Music Styles: Jazz

Location: United Kingdom

Date Born: 13th August 1919
Location Born: Battersea

Died: 14 February 2011 (aged 91)

New York City, United States

CONTACT DETAILS

Web Site: George Shearing – official website

Other Links: See bellow:

YOUTUBE VIDEO

BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Sir George Shearing OBE

Sir George Shearing, OBE (13 August 1919 – 14 February 2011) was a British jazz pianist who for many years led a popular jazz group that recorded for Discovery Records, MGM Records and Capitol Records. The composer of over 300 titles, including the jazz standard “Lullaby of Birdland”, had multiple albums on the Billboard charts during the 1950s, 1960s, 1980s and 1990s. He died of heart failure in New York City, at the age of 91.

Born in Battersea, London, Shearing was the youngest of nine children. He was born blind to working class parents: his father delivered coal and his mother cleaned trains in the evening. He started to learn piano at the age of three and began formal training at Linden Lodge School for the Blind, where he spent four years.

Though he was offered several scholarships, Shearing opted to perform at a local pub, the Mason’s Arms in Lambeth, for “25 bob a week” playing piano and accordion. He even joined an all-blind band during that time and was influenced by the records of Teddy Wilson and Fats Waller. Shearing made his first BBC radio broadcast during this time after befriending Leonard Feather, with whom he started recording in 1937. In 1940, Shearing joined Harry Parry’s popular band and contributed to the comeback of Stéphane Grappelli. Shearing won seven consecutive Melody Maker polls during this time. Around that time he was also a member of George Evans’s Saxes ‘n’ Sevens band.

US years

In 1947, Shearing emigrated to the United States, where his harmonically complex style mixing swing, bop and modern classical influences gained popularity. One of his first performances in the US was at the Hickory House. He performed with the Oscar Pettiford Trio and led a jazz quartet with Buddy DeFranco, which led to contractual problems, since Shearing was under contract to MGM and DeFranco to Capitol Records. In 1949, he formed the first George Shearing Quintet, a band with Margie Hyams (vibraphone), Chuck Wayne (guitar), later replaced by Toots Thielemans (listed as John Tillman), John Levy (bass) and Denzil Best (drums) and recorded for Discovery, Savoy and MGM, including the immensely popular single “September in the Rain” (MGM), which sold over 900,000 copies; “my other hit” to accompany “Lullaby of Birdland”. Shearing said of this hit that it was “as accidental as it could be.” He credited the Glenn Miller Orchestra’s reed section of the late 1930s and early 1940s as an important influence.

Shearing’s interest in classical music resulted in some performances with concert orchestras in the 1950s and 1960s, and his solos frequently drew upon the music of Satie, Delius and Debussy for inspiration. He became known for a piano technique known as “Shearing’s voicing”, a type of double melody block chord, with an additional fifth part that doubles the melody an octave lower. (This style is also known as “locked hands” and the jazz organist Milt Buckner is generally credited with inventing it.) In 1956, Shearing became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He continued to play with his quintet, with augmented players through the years, and recorded with Capitol until 1969. He created his own label, Sheba, that lasted a few years. Along with dozens of musical stars of his day, Shearing appeared on ABC’s The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom. Earlier, he had appeared on the same network’s reality show, The Comeback Story, in which he discussed how to cope with blindness.

Later career

In 1970, he began to “phase out his by-now-predictable quintet” and disbanded the group in 1978. One of his more notable albums during this period was The Reunion, with George Shearing (Verve 1976), made in collaboration with bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Rusty Jones, and featuring Stéphane Grappelli, the musician with whom he had debuted as a sideman decades before. Later, Shearing played with a trio, as a soloist and increasingly in a duo. Among his collaborations were sets with the Montgomery Brothers, Marian McPartland, Brian Q. Torff, Jim Hall, Hank Jones and Kenny Davern. In 1979, Shearing signed with Concord Records, and recorded for the label with Mel Tormé. This collaboration garnered Shearing and Tormé two Grammys, one in 1983 and another in 1984. Shearing remained fit and active well into his later years and continued to perform, even after being honoured with an Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993. He never forgot his native country and, in his last years, would split his year between living in New York and Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, UK, where he had bought a house with his second wife, singer Ellie Geffert. This gave him the opportunity to tour the UK, giving concerts, often with Tormé, backed by the BBC Big Band. He was appointed OBE in 1996. In 2007, he was knighted. “So”, he noted later, “the poor, blind kid from Battersea became Sir George Shearing. Now that’s a fairy tale come true.”

In 2004, he released his memoirs, Lullaby of Birdland, which was accompanied by a double-album “musical autobiography”, Lullabies of Birdland. Shortly afterwards, however, he suffered a fall at his home and retired from regular performing. In 2012 Derek Paravicini and jazz vocalist Frank Holder did a tribute concert to the recordings of Shearing. Ann Odell transcribed the recordings and taught Paravicini the parts, as well as being the MD for the concerts. Lady Shearing also endorsed the show, sending a letter to be read out before the Watermill Jazz Club performance.

Personal life

Shearing was married to Trixie Bayes from 1941 to 1973. Two years after his divorce he married his second wife, the singer Ellie Geffert, who survived him.

Shearing was a member of the Bohemian Club and often performed at the annual Bohemian Grove Encampments. He also composed music for two of the Grove Plays.

Discography

1947: Piano Solo – Savoy
1947: Great Britain’s Marian McPartland & George Shearing – Savoy Jazz (Released 1994)
1949: Midnight on Cloud 69 – Savoy
1949: George Shearing Quintet – Discovery
1950: You’re Hearing George Shearing and his Quintet – MGM (E-3216)
1951: An Evening with the George Shearing Quintet
1951: Souvenirs – London
1951: Touch of Genius – MGM
1952: I Hear Music – Metro
1955: Shearing Caravan – MGM
1955: Shearing in Hi Fi – MGM
1955: The Shearing Spell – Capitol
1956: Latin Escapade – Capitol
1956: Black Satin – Capitol (T858) (pop #13)
1956: By Request – London
1956: Velvet Carpet – Capitol (pop #20)
1957: Shearing on Stage – Capitol
1958: Blue Chiffon – Capitol
1958: Burnished Brass – Capitol (pop #17)
1958: Latin Lace – Capitol
1958: George Shearing on Stage! – Capitol
1958: Latin Affair – Capitol
1958: In the Night with Dakota Staton – Capitol
1959: Satin Brass – Capitol
1959: Satin Latin – MGM
1959: Beauty and the Beat! (with Peggy Lee) – Capitol
1960: San Francisco Scene – Capitol
1960: On the Sunny Side of the Strip – GNP
1960: The Shearing Touch – Capitol (T1472)
1960: White Satin – Capitol (pop #11)
1961: George Shearing and the Montgomery Brothers – Jazz
1961: Mood Latino – Capitol
1961: Nat King Cole Sings/George Shearing Plays (with Nat King Cole) – Capitol (pop #27)
1961: Satin Affair – Capitol (pop #82)
1961: The Swingin’s Mutual! (with Nancy Wilson) – Capitol
1962: Concerto for My Love – ST-1755 Capitol
1962: Jazz Moments – Blue Note
1962: Shearing Bossa Nova – Capitol
1962: Soft and Silky – MGM
1962: Smooth & Swinging – MGM
1963: Touch Me Softly – Capitol
1963: Jazz Concert – Capitol
1963: Rare Form – Capitol
1963: Old Gold and Ivory – Capitol
1963: Latin Rendezvous – Capitol
1964: Out of the Woods – Capitol
1964: Deep Velvet – Capitol
1966: That Fresh Feeling – Capitol
1966: Live Jazz from Club 15 – Request (Live, released 2006)
1968: Shearing Today – Capitol
1969: In the Mind – Capitol
1969: The Fool on the Hill – Capitol
1970: Out of This World (Sheba Records)
1970: It’s Real George (CRS 2023 Crown Records)
1971: The Heart and Soul of George Shearing and Joe Williams (Sheba)
1972: As Requested (Sheba)
1972: Music to Hear (Sheba)
1972: The George Shearing Quartet (Sheba)
1973: GAS (Sheba)
1973: The George Shearing Trio, Vol. 1
1974: Light Airy and Swinging – MPS/BASF
1974: Swinging in a Latin Mood – MPS/BASF
1974: My Ship – MPS/BASF
1974: The Way We Are – MPS/BASF
1975: The Best of George Shearing – Capitol
1975: Continental Experience – MPS/BASF
1976: The Many Facets of George Shearing – MPS/BASF
1976: The Reunion – MPS/BASF (with Stephane Grappelli)
1977: Windows – MPS/BASF
1977: 500 Miles High – MPS/BASF
1977: Feeling Happy – MPS/BASF
1979: Getting in the Swing of Things – MPS/BASF
1979: Live – Concord Jazz
1979: Blues Alley Jazz (Live) – Concord Jazz
1979: Concerto for Classic Guitar and Jazz Piano – Angel
1980: Two for the Road (with Carmen McRae) – Concord
1980: In Concert at the Pavilion – Concord Jazz
1980: On a Clear Day – Concord Jazz
1981: Alone Together – (with Marian McPartland) Concord Jazz
1981: First Edition – Concord Jazz
1982: An Evening with George Shearing & Mel Tormé (Live, with Mel Tormé)
1983: Top Drawer – Concord Jazz (Live, with Mel Tormé)
1984: Live at the Cafe Carlyle – Concord
1985: An Elegant Evening – Concord Jazz (with Mel Tormé)
1985: Grand Piano – Concord Jazz
1986: Plays Music of Cole Porter – Concord
1986: More Grand Piano – Concord Jazz
1987: A Vintage Year – Concord Jazz (Live, with Mel Tormé)
1987: Breakin’ Out – Concord Jazz
1987: Dexterity – Concord Jazz (Live, featuring Ernestine Anderson)
1988: The Spirit of 176 – Concord Jazz (with Hank Jones)
1988: Perfect Match – Concord Jazz (with Ernestine Anderson)
1989: George Shearing in Dixieland – Concord
1989: Piano – Concord Jazz
1990: Mel and George “Do” World War II – Concord (Live, with Mel Tormé)
1991: Get Happy! – EMI Classics
1992: I Hear a Rhapsody: Live at the Blue Note – Telarc (Live)
1992: Walkin’: Live at the Blue Note – Telarc (Live)
1992: How Beautiful Is Night – Telarc
1994: That Shearing Sound – Telarc
1994: Cocktail for Two – Jazz World
1995: Paper Moon: Songs of Nat King Cole
1997: Favorite Things – Telarc
1998: Christmas with The George Shearing Quintet – Telarc
2000: Just for You: Live in the 1950s – Jazz Band
2001: Live at the Forum, Bath 1992 – BBC Legends (Live)
2001: Back to Birdland – Telarc (Live)
2002: The Rare Delight of You (with John Pizzarelli) – Telarc
2002: Pick Yourself Up – Past Perfect
2002: Here and Now. New Look – with G.S. Quintet and String Choir
2004: Like Fine Wine – Mack Avenue
2005: Music to Hear – Koch
2005: Hopeless Romantics (with Michael Feinstein) – Concord
2012: George Shearing at home (with Don Thompson) – Jazzknight Records 001, New York

Filmography

2003: George Shearing – Jazz Legend
2004: George Shearing: Lullaby of Birdland
2004: Swing Era – George Shearing
2004: Joe Williams with George Shearing: A Song is Born
2005: Duo Featuring Neil Swainson

LINKS: