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George Shearing: Lullaby of Birdland.

Listening to this great jazz pianist is a treat anytime, but watching him in concert outdoors at the beautiful Paul Masson Winery in California makes this a visual as well as audio treat. Deftly accompanied by Neil Swainson on bass--the 72-year-old blending effortlessly with a musician four decades his junior--Shearing swings through Rodgers and Hart's "Isn't It Romantic," Hoagy Carmichael's "Memphis in June," and Charlie Parker's bebop "Moose the Mooch" with equal facility, throwing in a handful of lesser-known works that show off his own versatility and Swainson's ability to make a bass do everything but talk.

Between numbers, Shearing chats with his audience, delightedly informing them how his signature "Lullaby of Birdland," written in 1952 as the theme song for the famed jazz club, has been earning him money for 40 years in return for 10 minutes of work, which he claims is all it took him to dash off the tune. He also has a long-time love affair with puns, the more outrageous the better. Maximum groans were extracted from his recounting how, when he asked the cows at his Cotswolds farm how they liked Duke Ellington, they "mooed indigo." It is fortunate for Shearing that his piano playing is so sublime that he can be forgiven for such a line.
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Author:Rothenberg, Robert S.
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Article Type:Video Recording Review
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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