George Shearing, 1919-2011

Shearing head

George Shearing died early today at the age of 91. With his quintet, Shearing used a locked-hands technique at the piano, blending with vibes and guitar to develop a style that resonated with listeners and became one of the most recognizable sounds in an era when jazz was still at the core of popular music. He was already a success because of his hit version of "September in the Rain" when the record of his 1952 composition "Lullaby of Birdland" solidified his popularity. The song also provided … [Read more...]

Shearing On How He Did It

I just came across this video clip of George Shearing answering fellow pianist Billy Taylor's questions about how he developed the Shearing style. The clip has no date, but Taylor's leisure suit says the 1970s. The interested onlooker is Marian McPartland. … [Read more...]

Other Places: Bill Holman Lauded

On his Jazz Profiles website, Steve Cerra begins a tribute to Bill Holman with this passage: In Japan, a select few of those who maintain the country's artistic traditions or make a unique contribution to them are accorded the respect of the nation by being designated as a Living National Treasure [a considerable amount of schimolies also come with the title each year]. When it comes to composing and arranging for Jazz big bands, no one is more deserving of such consideration than Willis "Bill" … [Read more...]

Esperanza Spalding Smashes Grammy Precedent

The young bassist, composer and vocalist Esperanza Spalding last night shattered decades of pop and rock dominance of the Grammys to become the first jazz musician ever to be named best new artist. She edged out the teen idol Justin Bieber and three other pop performers. Spalding's Chamber Music Society CD broke through several categories in 2010 and became a best seller for her label, Telarc. For a Rifftides review of the album, go here. Spalding made an impression in the jazz community for … [Read more...]