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George Shearing's latest release, Like Fine Wine, presents the renowned pianist/composer in a trio setting performing a series of-sadly-quite tired standards.
Certainly, Shearing's abilities are in evidence, shinning through at odd moments throughout the course of the album, but the pieces are taken at such a meandering pace, and have been aged to such a mellow quality, that the resulting interpretations slip dangerously close to the smooth jazz versions, with the most egregious takes sounding almost like Muzak. Particularly painful are the bossa nova rendition of "Giant Steps" and the all but saccharine version of "You and the Night and the Music."
Exceptions to this tedious display, however, reveal Shearing's well-honed gift and will remind listeners why Shearing enjoys the stature he does. Of particular note are the gently swinging, beautifully colored "Moon Ray" and sonorous "Con Alma."
A lesson in poor programming and complacent musicianship, this collection will add little to listeners already familiar with Shearing's extensive body of work, and it should be avoided by those who are sampling their first taste.
Track Listing: 1.(Passos Gigantes) Giant Steps 2. All Too Soon 3. You and the Night and the Music 4. Who Can I Turn To? 5. Moon Ray 6. Tricrotism 7. Welcome to My Dream 8. Lullaby in Rhythm 9. So Rare 10. Moose the Mooche 11. When Lights are Low 12. Why Did I Choose You? 13. Con Alma 14. The End of a Love Affair
Personnel: George Shearing: Piano
Reg Schwager: Guitar
Neil Swainson: Bass
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.