This is one of the earliest releases to feature George Shearing exclusively as a solo pianist, and the CD reissue of the long unavailable LP adds ten previously unissued tracks. He is rather surprisingly low-key on most of these interpretations, even though they are mostly ballads, possibly because of Capitol's original marketing concept. "Stella by Starlight" is especially odd, starting off rather dreamy and evolving into more of an arrangement that sounds as if a classical pianist is making a crossover recording. Many of the other songs have long since disappeared from the jazz scene (if any of them were regularly played) since the original record came out in the 1950s; they include long forgotten songs such as "Guilty," "Friendly Persuasion," "High on a Windy Hill," and "Sigh No More." The newly added material includes a version of "My Funny Valentine," which has a rather unusual bassline and later hints at various classical composers, especially Mozart. Music by Rachmaninov is incorporated into his arrangement of "Tenderly," and a theme by Poulenc is worked into "On the Street Where You Live"; there's also an interpretation of Debussy's "Reverie." Although this isn't a very representative release from George Shearing's considerable discography (spanning over a half century), it should not be condemned because it doesn't sound like his better-known jazz recordings. As long as one isn't expecting Shearing's typical locked hands and often humor-filled style that's heard on most of his releases, this CD should please any jazz fan who is in the mood for something mellow.
The Shearing Piano Review
by Ken Dryden