George Shearing

The George Shearing Quartet

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This self-titled album by the George Shearing Quartet was evidently a one-time affair for the pianist's own short-lived label, Sheba, and with good reason; it's an absolute dud, giving every song a funk flavor. Longtime friend Don Heitler makes his rather unimpressive recording debut on organ, not really adding much in the way of background and failing miserably as a soloist; Shearing is also joined by Harvey Mason (later of Fourplay fame), whose absolutely pedestrian percussion adds nothing to the proceedings. Bassist Andy Simpkins is the only bright spot, avoiding the almost mandatory funk licks that many of these arrangements would seem to demand. The other problem is that the material is a mixture of normally dependable standards like "Oh, You Crazy Moon" and "Secret Love" with wretched numbers like "For All We Know" (the Carpenters' hit, not the more established song) and Andrew Lloyd Webber's nauseating "Everything's Alright," from his over-hyped and forgettable musical Jesus Christ Superstar. Even a normally potent jazz vehicle like the Beatles' "Yesterday" flops miserably, with a bland, predictable arrangement. Although Shearing seems to be giving his best effort, it is surprising that he chose Heitler and Mason for the session, neither of whom are in Shearing's league as players (in spite of their respective music education pedigrees). Since Koch acquired the rights to the entire Sheba catalog, it must have made sense to reissue all of the titles, but it is a safe bet that this will be the first reissue from George Shearing's Sheba years to hit the cutout racks.

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