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Lullabies Of Birdland by George Shearing

The challenge of documenting George Shearing's remarkable contribution to the world of jazz in just a pair of CD's is daunting, but this set from Concord Records is probably as close as you can come. From his first memorable quintet in 1949 (with vibraphonist Marjorie Hyams , guitarist Chuck Wayne, drummer Denzil Best and bassist John Levy) through decades of collaboration with artists like the Montgomery brothers (Wes, Buddy and Monk), Joe Williams, Marian McPartland, Jim Hall, Mel Torme, Tito Puente and dozens of others, not to mention a healthy sampling of Shearing's solo piano work, this collection may not have everything (no compilation could, or is intended to), but it has an extraordinary and representative range.

While his talents were more as an interpreter than an innovator, over the years Shearing introduced some great talents through his lineups, and offered some original approaches to the language of jazz, such as the piano-vibraphone interplay of his earliest quintets. Of course, he contributed one of the great melodies to the jazz songbook, as well, which offers the title for this collection and is delivered in three memorable variations in the compilation.

For people have approached, absorbed and abandoned George Shearing's music at the various stages of his career - from aspiring bebopper to Grand Old Man of Jazz - the range of the music on this collection may offer some surprises. He may have gone through many variations in lineup and material over the years, but he mastered each of them and never completely left behind what he had learned along the way, so there's great stuff here from every Shearing era. Whether this is an introduction or a recollection for you, this is an essential compilation by one of the true living legends of jazz.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: George Shearing
  • CD Title: Lullabies Of Birdland
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Concord
  • Rating: Five Stars
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