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Musician

George Shearing

Born:

George Shearing enjoys an international reputation as a pianist, arranger and composer. Equally at home on the concert stage as in jazz clubs, Shearing is recognized for inventive, orchestrated jazz. He has written over 300 compositions, including the classic “Lullaby of Birdland,” which has become a jazz standard. Shearing was born in 1919 in the Battersea area of London. Congenitally blind, he was the youngest of nine children. His father delivered coal and his mother cleaned trains at night after caring for the children during the day. His only formal musical education consisted of four years of study at the Linden Lodge School for the Blind. While his talent won him a number of university scholarships, he was forced to refuse them in favor of a more financially productive pursuit…playing piano in a neighborhood pub for the handsome salary of $5 a week! Shearing joined an all-blind band in the 1930’s. At that time he developed a friendship with the noted jazz critic and author, Leonard Feather. Through this contact, he made his first appearance on BBC radio. In 1947, Mr. Shearing moved to America, where he spent two years establishing his fame on this side of the Atlantic. The Shearing Sound commanded national attention when, in 1949, he gathered a quintet to record “September in the Rain” for MGM. The record was an overnight success and sold 900,000 copies. His U.S. reputation was permanently established when he was booked into Birdland, the legendary jazz spot in New York. Since then, he has become one of the country’s most popular performing and recording artist. In 1982 and 1983 he won Grammy Awards with recordings he made with Mel Torme. Mr. Shearing was the subject of an hour-long television documentary entitled “The Shearing Touch” presented on the Southbank Show with Melvyn Bragg on ITV in the UK. Three presidents have invited Mr. Shearing to play at the White House.. Ford, Carter and Reagan. He performed at the Royal Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. He is a member of the Friars Club and the Lotos Club in New York and the Bohemian Club in San Francisco. His awards and honors are many. In May 1975, he received an honorary degree of Doctor of Music from Westminster College in Salt Lake City. In May of 1994, Hamilton College in upstate New York awarded him another honorary doctorate in music. DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana presented him with an honorary doctorate of music on June 1, 2002. He received the prestigious Horatio Alger Award for Distinguished Americans in 1978 and a community recreational facility in Battersea, south London, was named the George Shearing Centre in his honor. In May of 1993, he was presented with the British equivalent of the Grammy…the Ivor Novello Award for Lifetime Achievement. In June of 1996, Mr. Shearing was included in the Queen’s Birthday Honors List and on November 26, 1996 he was invested by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his “service to music and Anglo-US relations.” He was presented the first American Music Award by the National Arts Club, New York City, in March of 1998. In 1999, his 80th birthday was celebrated in England where he played to a sold-out house at the Birmingham Symphony Hall. Also appearing with him were the BBC Big Band, the strings of the London Symphony, Dame Cleo Laine and John Dankworth. BBC Radio 2 presented a 2 1/2-hour “Salute to Shearing” in honor of his birthday. The following year another sold-out house at Carnegie Hall was treated to his birthday celebration featuring the George Shearing Quintet with Nancy Wilson, Dave Brubeck, Dr. Billy Taylor, the John Pizzarelli Trio, Tito Puente and Peter Schickele who brought a special greeting from PDQ Bach! Mr. Shearing’s biography, “Lullaby of Birdland,” published by Continuum, was released February 2005. In conjunction with the autobiography release Concord Records released a composite of Shearing recordings in a 2-CD set entitled “Lullabies of Birdland.: A Musical Autobiography” which was immediately followed up with “Hopeless Romantics” with Michael Feinstein. Concord then released the collectors set Mel Tormé & George Shearing The Concord Years. Mr. Shearing’s popularity continues to rise.

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Article: Catching Up With

Naama Gheber's Detours Lead Straight To Jazz Career

Read "Naama Gheber's Detours Lead Straight To Jazz Career" reviewed by Jim Trageser


There is no “normal" journey to becoming an established, professional musician. Every path is different; each story one of a kind. But some are perhaps more different than most. Naama Gheber's surely ranks among those in the “more different" category: not many jazz singers began their adult years by serving as an ...

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Article: Interview

Brian Auger's Revolution In Jazz

Read "Brian Auger's Revolution In Jazz" reviewed by Jim Santella


This interview first appeared at All About Jazz in November 2000. Born and raised in jny: London, Brian Auger came up through those crazy years in music. The 1960s were all about change. Things were being done in jazz that hadn't been considered earlier. Lifestyles and values were changing too, and that was affecting ...

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Article: Bailey's Bundles

February 2022: While I'm Still Here

Read "February 2022: While I'm Still Here" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey


Bob Levy While I'm Still Here SRM Records 2021 Bob Levy is the Lord Byron of songwriters: he has the ability to throw off verse and melodies at will. His contribution to the COVID pandemic is the aptly named, While I'm Still Here. Levy has a stable of talent singing ...

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Article: Interview

Bill Charlap: Intellect And Emotion

Read "Bill Charlap: Intellect And Emotion" reviewed by R.J. DeLuke


"I don't ever remember a time when I didn't play the piano," reflects pianist Bill Charlap, who has become one of the giants of his generation on his instrument of choice, as evidenced by the array of other great players with whom he has performed. With his deft and agile approach he can summon a fiery ...

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Article: Album Review

Graham Dechter: Major Influence

Read "Major Influence" reviewed by Pierre Giroux


The guitarist Graham Dechter offers his first new album in almost a decade. Major Influence was recorded prior to the pandemic with the dream rhythm section of Dechter's earlier recordings: pianist Tamir Hendelman, bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton. In early fall 2021, the band can now begin to contemplate returning to touring. ...

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Article: Live Review

Live From Tallinn: The Jussi Lehtonen Quartet, Akli, Dreamkrusher! & Shelton San vs Zahir

Read "Live From Tallinn: The Jussi Lehtonen Quartet, Akli, Dreamkrusher! & Shelton San vs Zahir" reviewed by Martin Longley


The Jussi Lehtonen Quartet Philly Joe's Jazz Bar Tallinn, Estonia July 28, 2021 Philly Joe's Jazz Bar is, somewhat appropriately, situated right on Freedom Square, a key central location in the Estonian capital city of Tallinn. There aren't so many global instances of similarly prominent placements for such ...

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Article: Out and About: The Super Fans

Meet Jack DiMonte

Read "Meet Jack DiMonte" reviewed by Tessa Souter and Andrea Wolper


As a teenager in central New Jersey, our newest Super Fan, Jack DiMonte, started listening to a twice-weekly all-Sinatra radio show and, without even realizing it, absorbing the music and lyrics of the Great American Songbook. Moving to New York as an actor, he soon found himself luxuriating in the city's vibrant jazz and cabaret scenes. ...

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Article: Album Review

Pamai Chirdkiatisak: Dreamer

Read "Dreamer" reviewed by Jack Bowers


“Music is a universal language." “Jazz transcends bloodlines and borders." Listening to guitarist Pamai Chirdkiatisak's debut album, Dreamer, one quickly realizes that those phrases are more than mere slogans or platitudes. The fact that Chirdkiatisak's admirable quartet is based in Bangkok, Thailand, is apparent only when reading the album ...

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Article: Radio & Podcasts

Close Your Eyes: Celebrating Bernice Petkere, The Queen of Tin Pan Alley

Read "Close Your Eyes: Celebrating Bernice Petkere, The Queen of Tin Pan Alley" reviewed by Mary Foster Conklin


This broadcast begins with a celebration of composer Bernice Petkere ("Close Your Eyes," Lullaby of the Leaves") along with new releases from pianist Haeun Joo and bassist Adi Meyerson. Other birthday shoutouts include Jeri Southern, Terri Lyne Carrington, Roberta Piket, Noa Fort, Tony Bennett, Meg Okura and Cyrille Aimee, among others. Thanks for listening and please ...


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