George Shearing: 1919-2011 - JazzWax

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February 15, 2011


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Nice tribute to Sir George. We're looking forward to your future blogs about this incredible pianist. I really enjoyed the Piano Jazz show with his old friend from England (Marian McPartland) years ago.


Bruce Armstrong

One of my most memorable evenings of “live jazz” occurred in the mid-1960s when I had the opportunity to hear the George Shearing Quintet at Shelly’s Manne-Hole in Hollywood. The other members of the quintet were Joe Pass (guitar), Haygood Hardy (vibes), Bob Whitlock (bass) and Colin Bailey (drums)—talk about an all-star lineup! I still remember that Joe Pass was featured on a burning, up-tempo “Stella By Starlight” and George was right there with Joe, both comping and soloing at a ferocious tempo! Later in the evening everyone left the stage but George who played a beautiful solo version of “The Bad and the Beautiful.” He was a true jazz master. RIP Sir George.

Win Hinkle

Man, I would loved to hear that version of the Bad And The Beautiful. I'll see if he recorded it. Very few people have made the comparison but I believe that Bill Evans owes a great deat to Shearing. The blocking is only part of it. I look forward to an entire week of posts about Shearing. Levy has offered new insight to George. Perhaps Marian could offer even more.

Juan Torras Barba

I have got all of his vinyl records that they were more than 120...And I was his number 1 fan in Europe....

Juan Torras Barba

George influenced master Bill Evans very much.He did not missed any Shearing concerts in the 50,s.He also admired the master touch of Ray Bryant one of the my favourites pianists.
He also did many classical concerts by Mozart and Bach with symphonic orchestras.I have many letters from him.I met him several times and he told me :"you know about me more than myself do..."

David Thompson

I had the good fortune to study with George in NYC, back in 1981-82...
He was full of humor and warmth...and so incredibly bright and musically so masterful......He had a 9 ft Bosendorfer in his living room, and two Yamaha professional uprights in his teaching studio...We used to sit side by side, and work on songs and counterpoint..He had a supreme command of not only jazz, but of classical repertoire as well. I remember countless times he would stop in the middle of a tune like Stella By Starlight, and break into some Bach or Mozart or Chopin to illustrate a point about harmony, or to show how different composers had approached the same harmonic changes in different or similar ways. His wit was ever-present. He never missed a chance to say something humorous about a song, or the challenges of music and the piano, or to make fun of his own blindness....I remember one of his concerts in California at Paul Masson Winery...He announced to the audience that he was going to play a well known standard...."On a Clear Day..........(pause).....I still can't see a damn thing".......And so he did, playing a very modal dark rendition of the tune...... That was George...An amazing intellect and possessed with an incredibly strong will and passion for not only music, but for life itself.....If youve never listened to his solo album: George Shearing, Solo Piano, My Ship...give a listen sometime....

just a masterpiece of an album played by one of the truly great pianists of our time.......
Here is a link to the one of his appearances with good friend Marian McPartland on Piano Jazz, back in really says it all....George will be greatly missed...

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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