George Shearing

The George Shearing Trio, Vol. 1

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The George Shearing Trio, Vol. 1 Review

by Ken Dryden

Some of George Shearing's least familiar recordings come from the period in which he released them on Sheba (his own mail order label), which ceased operations in 1971, around the time he divorced his first wife. This trio session with bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Harvey Mason finds the pianist in a playful mood, covering standards and less familiar songs, along with a few surprises. "I Can't Get Started" starts in a rather subdued setting before Shearing raises a dramatic crescendo to wrap it, with Simpkins switching to playing arco. "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," the old folk song dating from Civil War, is adapted into an unusual bop setting. It is as if the music approaches and passes by the listener, just as if the players were soldiers, though the ending is a bit corny, incorporating someone walking down a hallway and shutting a door. It's hard not to smile when hearing the delicious take of the country-western favorite "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," which extensively showcases Simpkins, though Shearing adds a wild bop chorus. [The Koch CD reissue adds a previously unissued track, a rather funky take of "Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year."]

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