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Shearing, George (Albert)

Shearing, George (Albert)

Shearing, George (Albert), famed pop/jazz pianist and composer; b. Battersea, London, England, Aug. 13, 1919. He was blind from birth. He played piano and accordion from early childhood. He learned to read music with Braille notation; he studied classical piano at a school for the blind during the early 1930s; during 1937, he played in a band for blind students led by Claude Bampton. Shearing appeared at hotels and did radio work; his first solo broadcast was in February 1939. He worked with various British jazz leaders as well as French violinist Stephane Grappelli, then a resident of Britain, between the late 1930s and 1947; he first visited the U.S. in late 1946, and emigrated a year later. In the early 1940s, he had played in the swing style of the time. In the late 1940s, influenced by the innovations of bebop, he developed a new style, characterized by surprising, extended harmonies, and a pianistic technique whereby both hands play thick chords in parallel motion (“locked-hands style”). In 1949, he formed his first quintet of piano, guitar, vibes, bass, and drums; he has been one of the most popular jazz musicians in the world ever since. His extremely successful group recorded until 1967. Shearing composed several famous tunes, among them “Lullaby of Bird-land” (1952) and one favored by Miles Davis and Bill Evans, “Conception” (greatly rearranged by Davis as “Deception”). Since 1967, Shearing has led trios and duos and even a big band, and has recorded with Carmen McRae and Mel Torme. In 1978, he formally ended his quintet, although he revived it again during the 1990s for recording and touring. He has also guested with several major symphony orchestras. He appeared in the video Lullaby of Birdland (1992).

Discography

London Years 1939–1943 (1943); So Rare (1947); Piano Solo (1947); Lullaby of Birdland (1949); George Shearing Quintet (1949); George Shearing Goes Hollywood (1949); You’re Hearing the George Shearing Quartet (1950); Souvenirs (1951); Touch of Genius (1951); An Evening with the George Shearing Quintet (1951); I Hear Music (1952); The Shearing Spell (1955); Shearing Caravan (1955); Shearing in Hi Fi (1955); Latin Escapade (1956); Shearing Piano (1956); White Satin & Black Satin (1956); Velvet Carpet (1956); In the Night (1957); Shearing on Stage (1957); Latin lace (1958); Burnished Brass (1958); On the Sunny Side of the Strip (1959); Satin Brass (1959) White Satin (1960); Swinging’s Mutual (1960); Nat King Cole Sings/George Shearing Plays (1961); And the Montgomery Brothers (1961); Satin Affair (1961); Jazz Moments (1962); Old Gold and Ivory (1963); Rare Form (1963); Out of the Woods (1964); Music Is to Hear: Joe Williams (1971); The George Shearing Quartet (1972); Gas (1973); My Ship (1974); Reunion (1976); 500 Miles (1977); Getting in the Swing of Things (1979); Two for the Raod (1980); On a Clear day (1980); Alone Together (1981); Evening with George Shearing and Mel Torme (1982); Top Drawer (1983); Live at the Café Carlyle (1984); Grand Piano (1985); Plays Music of Cole Porter (1986); More Grand Piano (1986); Breakin’ Out (1987); Dexterity (1987); Perfect Match (1988); George Shearing in Dixieland (1989); Walkin’—Live at the Blue Note (1992); That Shearing Sound (1994); Paper Moon: Songs of Nat King Cole (1995); Christmas with George Shearing Quintet (1998).

—John Chilton , Who’s Who of Jazz/John Chilton , Who’s Who of British Jazz/Lewis Porter/Nicolas Slonimsky /Music Master Jazz and Blues Catalogue

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