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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Jazz Moments

Essential Jazz Classics EJC 55632



1. Makin' Whoopee

2. What Is This Thing Called Love?

3. What's New

4. Like Someone In Love

5. Heart Of Winter

6. Blues In 9/4

7. Symphony

8. When Sunny Gets Blue

9. Wonder Why

10. The Mood Is Mellow

11. Gone With The Wind

12. It Could Happen To You

George Shearing - Piano

Israel Crosby - Bass

Vernel Fournier - Drums

13. I Remember Clifford

14. Whisper Not

15. Evansville

16. Don’t Call Me, I’ll Call You

17. Inspiration

18. You Are There

19. Wait Till You See Her

20. Blue Lou

21. Oh! Look At Me Now

22. Lullaby of Birdland

George Shearing – Piano

Warren Chiasson – Vibes

Dick Garcia – Guitar

Wyatt Ruther – Bass

Lawrence Marable - Drums

23. Lila’s Theme

24. Fairy Tales

George Shearing Orchestra

George Shearing – Piano, leader

Others unknown


George Shearing was a good pianist (and accordionist) when he lived in England but when he went to the USA, he seemed to mature before our very eyes – or rather, our very ears. He invented that wondrous quintet featuring piano, vibes and guitar. This made him a star but he didn’t stop there. He continued to develop in ways which made him a very special soloist and duettist, as well as good-humoured accompanist to the likes of Mel Tormé.

On this album from June 1962, he was joined by bassist Israel Crosby and drummer Vernel Fournier, who had made names for themselves in the preceding years as part of Ahmad Jamal’s piano trio. They backed him up as effectively as they had accompanied Jamal, although I am somewhat disturbed to hear hints that Crosby’s intonation doesn’t always sound perfect. This may be because he was already unwell (he died in August 1962, less than two months after this album was made). Or it may be a fault in the recording. I really don’t understand it, as George says in the sleeve-note “He played bass parts that were so beautiful, you could never write anything as good”.

As for drummer Vernel Fournier, his work with Ahmad Jamal showed what a masterly player he is, especially in a piano trio. George Shearing gives him more solos and four-bar breaks than Jamal did, and Vernel creates some perfectly-judged contributions. At the start of What Is This Thing Called Love? he even backs Shearing with the sort of drum pattern that made Ahmad Jamal’s Poinciana so special.

A track like Symphony displays Shearing’s maturity, with a light touch and a relaxed approach. It is a refined style and it swings calmly, while sustaining notes to create a liquid quality in the playing. It Could Happen To You exhibits George’s affinity with classical music, using arpeggios in the left hand against the melody in the right hand.

I love the way that this record company (Essential Jazz Classics) crams as many tracks as it can onto a CD. In this case you get nearly 75 minutes of first-class music. Besides the dozen tracks from the original trio LP, the CD contains ten tracks by the Shearing Quintet and another two (the last two on the disc) from a single featuring Shearing with an orchestra. The quintet tracks are in the easy, swinging style that made the original quintet so successful. Lila’s Theme was written by Jerry Goldsmith for a film and is very unlike the Shearing we normally hear. But Fairy Tales uses the quintet sound with an orchestral background.

Altogether, this album is a generous compilation of very listenable music.

Tony Augarde

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