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GEORGE SHEARING ~ August 13, 1919 – February 14, 2011



Courtesy Paul Roth’s Music Liner Notes

The George Shearing Quintet at Birdland, circa 1952: Shearing, piano; Don Elliott, vibraphone; Chuck Wayne, guitar, John Levy, bass; Denzel DeCosta Best, drums. At one point, Shearing invited vibist Milt Jackson to join the group. Jackson declined when Shearing asked him to silence the instrument’s sustain pedal. (Terry Gibbs’ vibes are set up and good to go, but Gibbs himself is missing).

Listen to the quintet play drummer Denzel DeCosta Best’s “Move,” now a bebop classic

Archival photos

The same Shearing Quintet with vibist Marjorie Hyams. Was the very look of Shearing’s combo ahead of its time, or what?

Lester Young’s “Jumpin’ with Symphony Sid” performed by the 1950 Shearing Quintet
||| Den? där har jag också – George Shearing var väldigt bra under 40- och 50-talet – sedan? blev det lite väl mycket easylistening. 😀 |||

© Bettmann/CORBIS

George Shearing at rehearsal with the Hollywood Symphony, 1958


Sir George Shearing

Courtesy photo

Sir George and wife Ellie Lee in Massachusetts

Excerpt from Lee Mergner’s JazzTimes obituary

Jazz Pianist George Shearing Dies

English-born pianist and composer of “Lullaby of Birdland” was 91 years old

By Lee Mergner

George Shearing, the British jazz pianist and composer who wrote the bebop standard “Lullaby of Birdland,” died on Monday, February 14 in New York City, where he had resided for many years. The cause of death was heart failure. He was 91.

The writer Alyn Shipton, who helped Shearing write his memoirs, said that Shearing had a remarkable memory. “He could reproduce whole records from memory, accurately catching the nuances of Fats, Tatum, Bud Powell and Erroll Garner among others,” said Shipton. “But his real talent was, firstly to conceptualize the ‘Shearing Sound’ – transferring the Glenn Miller orchestral voicings to piano, vibes and guitar, and secondly to apply an instantaneous musical wit and imagination to everything he did. One of his favorite party tricks which I saw him do many times was to play the Irish folk song ‘Kerry Dance’ and weave into it the ‘Kyrie’ from Bach’s B Minor mass. George particularly liked that because it was a verbal pun on Kyrie and Kerry and a musical pun on mixing genres. He loved puns and wordplay and his conversation was peppered with them.”

>>> To read Lee Mergner’s obituary of George Shearing in its entirety, click here to go to JazzTimes >>>

Read the excellent Shearing bio and appreciation at Paul Roth’s Music Liner Notes

George Shearing on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz, 2009

The official George Shearing website


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