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Review Redux. I was just putting the finishing touches on my January review of Christmas with The George Shearing Quintet when I read the December reviews and found that my colleague Douglas Payne had already covered this ground. I thought, "Drat, he did not miss one stylistic or compositional allusion that I heard" (with the exception of Shearing's quote of "Boplicity" in "Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow"). I am not going to cover Mr. Payne's ground; he did a better job than I could. However, I will share a reminiscence.
Boy Meets Jazz. In 1973, while in high school, a close friend of mine lent me two cassette tapes, The Oscar Peterson Trio The Trio and George Shearing George Shearing and the Montgomery Brothers. These recordings were my first real exposure to Jazz. I wore them both out. But, where I purchased more Oscar Peterson, I allowed George Shearing to go fallow. That is until 1998 and I never forgot that Shearing sound.
Holiday Jazz. 1995 saw the release of Oscar Peterson's collection of Christmas ditties on Telarc Jazz An Oscar Peterson Christmas (CD-83372). Telarc Jazz continues their display of Jazz caroling with the release of Christmas with The George Shearing Quintet. What both of these discs have in common is they sound like seasonal tunes interpreted by the interpreters, i.e., they both place their indelible stamp on the old tunes. The Shearing disc was immediately recognizable to me with his trademark quintet sound coupling the guitar and vibraphone. Listening to it felt like coming home.
The Gentleman of Jazz. George Shearing is a gentlemanly and urbane musician with an encyclopedic mind and a sensitive, kind heart. All of this is expressed in his holiday release. I have found few Jazz holiday discs that have worked for me, but Mr. Shearing's immediately captures the warmth of a log fire with frost on the windows and snow in the yard. "Sleighbells ring are you listenin'..." .
Track Listing: Ding Dong! Merrily On High, White Christmas, Winter Wonderland, The Christmas Waltz, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, No
Personnel: George Shearing: Piano and Vocals, Reg Schwager: Guitar, Don Thompson: Vibraphone, Neil Swainson: Bass, Dennis Mackrel: Drums