Jazz Band Records presents a series of delightful NBC Monitor radio broadcasts made at Basin Street on Broadway or Zardi's in Hollywood during 1955-1956, and at the Roundtable in New York in December 1958. While introducing the George Shearing Quintet's superb rendition of Ray Bryant's "Cuban Fantasy," announcer Joe Adams says "You're hearing...Shearing!" using a breathy, almost Peter Sellers-perfect dialect that sounds more conspicuously British than Shearing's. This particular performance occurred while Shearing was waiting to receive his final naturalization papers; the banter between pianist and MC includes references to the anticipated adjustment in citizenship. These broadcasts occurred periodically throughout the George Shearing Quintet's busy touring schedule. The 1955-1956 band was composed of Johnny Rae on vibes and Latin percussion; Toots Thielemans, guitar, harmonica, and Latin percussion; bassist Al McKibbon; and drummer Bill Clark. By 1958 the band still had Thielemans playing guitar but with Emil Richards at the vibes, Jimmy Bond or Carl Pruitt playing the upright bass, and Ray Mosca behind the drums. According to the producers: "Armando Peraza (Latin percussion) is listed as being with George Shearing's group during this period. If so he is only audible on 'Mambo Inn' and 'Cuban Fantasy.' On a number of occasions the group is announced as the George Shearing Sextet." Throughout this period, the repertoire consisted of cool ballads, smooth standards, and creative originals; the dynamic crosscurrents of bebop, cool school, and Latin American jazz resulted in music that was at once pleasantly stimulating and wonderfully relaxing. Those who enjoy archival radio broadcasts will appreciate the stylized introductions by what must have been sharply dressed, carefully groomed MCs as well as the occasional friendly spoken intro by Shearing himself.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf