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December 18, 2008


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a Feather in his own cap, wouldn't you say? (and if he played a horn...?) but genial George let him take charge, and so you has Jazz, sixty years later.

Larry Kart

A slightly different take from a 1966 Les Tomkins interview with Shearing. According to Shearing, his and DeFranco's label affliations were still in the negotiatons stage, and, as Shearing alludes to below, there was a fair amount of static between his wife and DeFranco's over billing -- and probably over related matters as well. In any case, though I can't cite a source here, I believe I've read that as a result of what went down, Shearing and DeFranco did not remain "very close friends" -- or perhaps it was that DeFranco's wife never ceased to feel aggrieved at Shearing and his wife:

Tomkins interview:

So during this period the "sound" was not in my mind at all. Then Buddy De Franco, John Levy, Denzil Best and I formed a quartet. John, Denzil and I were going to have a trio—then the guy said: "Well, I think I can get Buddy De Franco fairly reasonably. Would you mind?" Would I mind? Buddy to me is just about the most wonderful thing on clarinet And so we would get a lot of intricate ideas going on—thirds and sixths and all kinds of things——between Buddy and me.

Naturally, we wanted to record what we were doing.

But Buddy and I were negotiating separate recording contracts—he with Capitol, me with MGM. The ironical thing is later on he was to go with MGM and I was to go with Capitol. When such negotiations are in progress, there is no way of recording a group and thus letting lots of people know that it exists.

And, needless to say, both our wives were interested in the survival of the fittest. My wife would maintain it should be called the George Shearing/ Buddy De Franco Quartet, and his wife would say it should be vice versa. I mean, this is very natural.

So, although Buddy and I have always remained very close friends, we did pursue our individual musical careers But I wanted to keep that subdued rhythm section, and that Milt Buckner thing was still in my mind. And the more I thought about it, the surer I was that the way to commercialise this would be to bring it to the Glenn Miller level and play tunes that the public would know.

Leonard Feather, the English jazz critic, who had long since been in the United States, said: "How about Marjorie Hyams on vibes and Chuck Wayne on guitar?" I'd heard both of them with their own groups.

We got together for a rehearsal. Marjorie played in one octave, Chuck played an octave below. I played in both octaves. with the locked hands business going on in between. And it was purely and simply by accident that we happened upon this sound. This was 1949.

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  • Marc Myers writes on music and the arts for The Wall Street Journal. He is author of "Why Jazz Happened" (Univ. of Calif. Press). Founded in 2007, JazzWax was named the 2015 "Blog of the Year" by the Jazz Journalists Association.
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