George Shearing

Vol. 2: The Early Years

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In spite of the fact that the cover art gives the indication that an early edition of the George Shearing Quintet is present on this budget LP reissue, this is actually a collection of early trio and quartet sides for Ace of Hearts and Decca. Shearing's styled was still in transition, so he isn't nearly as recognizable as he would later be following his numerous popular recordings for Capitol during the 1950s and 1960s. What is odd is that Allan Hodgkins' guitar is almost inaudible on the two quartet tracks, "It's Easy to Remember" and "Blue Moon," because Shearing preferred "quiet, clipped guitar," according to Hodgkins in Tony Barrow's liner notes; if close attention is paid, the soft chords can be mistaken for a bassline on the piano. Norman Burns' overbearing drums prove to be a major distraction on an otherwise soft-spoken take of "Poinciana," while Shearing's early bop compositions, "Consternation" and "To be or Not to Bop," prove far more successful. The ridiculous brevity of this LP and the mediocre pseudo-stereo sound make this recording far less desirable than some of the more thorough and appropriately documented CD reissues which followed decades later, so this circa 1970s reissue can be safely bypassed.