George Shearing Day
August 13, 1919 – February 14, 2011
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Pianist and composer Sir George Shearing was born on August 13th, 1919 in London, England.
Shearing first made a name for himself playing with the Harry Parry band in 1940. A popular member of the group, Shearing won seven Melody Maker polls in a row.
Turing down several music scholarships Shearing preferred instead to continue working as an entertainer playing piano and accordion at a local pub.
After immigrating to the U.S. in 1947 his unique style, a classically influenced blend of bop and swing, gained significant popularity.
George Shearing performed with the “Oscar Pettiford Trio” and co-led a quartet with Buddy DeFranco, before the formation of his first quintet in 1949.
The group went on to release the immensely popular single “September in the Rain” backed with shearing’s own composition “Lullaby of Birdland.”
The pianist’s keen interest in classical music would lead to performances with concert orchestras during the 1950s and 1960s.
In the 1970s George Shearing began to work less frequently with his quintet in favor of performing as a soloist or in collaboration with others, inevitably the group disbanded in 1978.
Shearing’s more memorable musical partnerships included those with Marian McPartland, Kenny Davern, Jim Hall, and Hank Jones.
He won two consecutive Grammys in 1983 and ’84 for his work on the Concord label with Mel Tormé.
Shearing continued to perform until the early 2000s, and was knighted in 2007.
The George Shearing Quintet are featured in a performance from the early 1950s.
George Shearing, piano
Don Elliott, vibes
Chuck Wayne, guitar
John Levy, bass
Denzil Best, drums