The Shearing Sound That Wasn't


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In 1948, George Shearing and Buddy DeFranco kicked around the idea of forming a quintet. With Shearing's block chords and Buddy's bop clarinet along with their speed, they figured they'd knock out audiences. They performed together with bassist John Levy and drummer Denzil Best at the Clique Club, which would become Birdland a year later.

But business and technology got in the way. With the advent of the 10-inch LP, Buddy was signed to Capitol in 1949 while Shearing signed with MGM, making it impossible to record together. So Shearing added Marjorie Hyams on vibes and Chuck Wayne on guitar to approximate the clarinet's high, blue tone. Shearing's quintet sound was based on the voicings of the Glenn Miller Orchestra and the block chords of pianist Milt Buckner. Fortunately, Hyams had Buddy's book of arrangements and transposed them for vibes and guitar.

So what would the George Shearing-Buddy DeFranco Quintet have sounded like had they been able to move forward? We'll never know, since no known recordings were made of the group. But we do have six sides recorded by the Buddy DeFranco Sextet in August 1949 that provide a sense. The group was comprised of  Buddy DeFranco (cl), Teddy Charles (vib), Harvey Leonard (p), Jimmy Raney (g), Bob Carter (b) and Max Roach (d). The five tracks were Bud's Invention, Penthouse Serenade, Extrovert, Good for Nothin' Joe and Aishie.

JazzWax tracks: You'll find these five sides on Buddy DeFranco: 1949-'50 Studio Performances (Hep) here.

JazzWax clips: Here's Aishie, which provides an inkling of Buddy's vision and the Tristano-like approach to melody that he had in mind...

Here's Bud's Invention...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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