– George Shearing – LIve At The Hollywood Bowl – Boys Club Benefit 1961 –
Part of a longer concert featuring a wide range of talent as part of a Boys Club benefit in 1961, George Shearing offered up a short but really lovely set to coincide with his newly released Velvet Carpet album for Capitol, featuring the Quintet and Strings.
In 1949, George Shearing formed the first Quintet, a band with Margie Hyams (vibraphone), Chuck Wayne (guitar), later replaced by Toots Thielemans (listed as John Tillman), John Levy (bass), and Denzil Best (drums). This line-up recorded for Discovery, Savoy, and MGM, including the immensely popular single “September in the Rain” (MGM), which sold over 900,000 copies; “my other hit” to accompany “Lullaby of Birdland”. Shearing said of this hit that it was “as accidental as it could be.” At this time Jack Kerouac heard him play in Birdland and describes the performance in Part Two of On the Road.
Shearing’s interest in classical music resulted in some performances with concert orchestras in the 1950s and 1960s, and his solos frequently drew upon the music of Satie, Delius, and Debussy for inspiration. He became known for a piano technique known as “The Shearing Sound”, a type of double melody block chord, with an additional fifth part that doubles the melody an octave lower. With the piano playing these five voices, Shearing would double the top voice with the vibraphone and the bottom voice with the guitar to create his signature sound. (This piano technique is also known as “locked hands” and the jazz organist Milt Buckner is generally credited with inventing it. In Shearing’s later career he played with a more conventional piano technique while maintaining his recognizable improvisational style.)
George Shearing continued to play with his quintet, with augmented players through the years, and recorded with Capitol until 1969. He created his own label, Sheba, that lasted a few years. Along with dozens of musical stars of his day, Shearing appeared on ABC’s The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom. Earlier, he had appeared on the same network’s reality show, The Comeback Story, in which he discussed how to cope with blindness.
Enjoy and hit “repeat” often. This is another concert that’s never been heard before and long thought lost. You’re hearing it here first.