George Shearing

Out of This World

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Out of This World Review

by Ken Dryden

The demise of George Shearing's Sheba label (primarily a mail order operation with very limited distribution in stores) after just a handful of LPs were released made this solo piano session somewhat hard to locate until Koch acquired the rights to the masters and reissued it in 2001, with the promise to reissue the label's entire output. This CD is somewhat closer to the earlier solo date, The Shearing Piano, rather than his later solo sessions for Concord and Telarc, in that it is fairly conservative in nature. After beginning with a dreamy take of "Out of This World," Shearing's program mixes standards, pop songs, and a few originals. "Out of Nowhere" has some abbreviated Art Tatum-like runs in a choppy stop-and-go arrangement, while his interpretation of the beautiful ballad "How Do You Say 'Auf Wiedersehen?'" seems a little stiff compared to his later duo version with Mel Tormé for Concord. The choice of two songs by the Beatles isn't surprising, although the normally monotonous "Hey Jude" benefits from his Baroque arrangement, which also fades before spending an excessive amount of time on its repetitive chorus; while "Here, There, and Everywhere" has come to be recognized as a beautiful ballad worth the attention of jazz musicians, Shearing was one of the first in his field to see its possibilities. The pianist's compositions include the lovely miniature ballad "Wendy (Chanson)," the playful "Funny Sunny," and the somewhat meandering "The Road to Nowhere." The music is consistently pretty but not nearly as striking as the solo releases that Shearing recorded in the decades which followed. Still, fans of the veteran pianist will enjoy this long unavailable release.

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