Cover image for Lullaby of birdland
Title:
Lullaby of birdland
Author:
Shearing, George.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Continuum, [2004]

©2004
Physical Description:
259 pages : illustrations; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Language:
English
Contents:
The house in Arthur Street -- Shillington street school -- Linden lodge -- Mighty like the blues -- Delayed action -- Swing street -- September in the rain -- Early travels -- Lullaby of birdland -- On the road -- Classical concerts -- Ellie -- Two bodies, one musical mind -- Today.
Personal Subject:
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780826460158
Format :
Book

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ML417.S57 A3 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

Pianist George Shearing is that rare thing, a European jazz musician who became a household name in the US, as a result of the "Shearing sound"--the recordings of his historic late 1940s quintet. Together with his unique "locked hands" approach to playing the piano, Shearing's quintet with guitar and vibraphone in close harmony to his own playing revolutionized small group jazz, and ensured that after seven years as Melody Maker's top British pianist, he achieved even greater success in America. His compositions have been recorded by everyone from Sarah Vaughan to Miles Davis, and his best known pieces include "Lullaby of Birdland", "She" and "Conception". His story is all the more remarkable because Shearing was born blind. His candid reminiscences include a behind the scenes experience of New York's 52nd Street in its heyday, as well as memories of a vast roll-call of professional colleagues that includes all the great names in jazz.


Author Notes

George Shearing is an internationally known jazz pianist. He is still active on the international stage and in late 1999 filled Carnegie Hall for a gala celebration of his 80th birthday. Alyn Shipton is a writer and broadcaster on jazz. Pianist George Shearing is that rare thing, a European jazz musician who became a household name in the US, as a result of the 'Shearing sound' - the recordings of his historic late 1940s quintet. Together with his unique 'locked hands' approach to playing the piano, Shearing's quintet with guitar and vibraphone in close harmony to his own playing revolutionised small group jazz, and ensured that after seven years as Melody Maker's top British pianist, he achieved even greater success in America. His compositions have been recorded by everyone from Sarah Vaughan to Miles Davis, and his best known pieces include Lullaby of Birdland, She and Conception. His story is all the more remarkable because Shearing was born blind. As a teenager he joined Claude Bampton's band, and he recounts hilarious anecdotes about the trials and tribulations of this all blind group. By the start of the war years, Shearing was established as one of Britain's most popular and impressive jazz pianists - broadcasting regularly and playing and recording with Stephane Grappelli. In 1947 he emigrated to the US and started his landmark series of records with his quintet as well as performing classical pieces with several leading symphony orchestras. His candid reminiscences include a behind the scenes experience of New York's 52nd Street in its heyday, as well as memories of a vast roll-call of professional colleagues that includes all the great names in jazz.Alyn Shipton presents jazz radio programs for the BBC and is a critic for The Times in London. He is the author of several books on music, as well as a music publisher and editor. He divides his time between Oxford and the French countryside. In 2010, he was voted UK Jazz Broadcaster of the Year.


Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

In the exclusive coterie of great jazz musicians, none has had to overcome a handicap so devastatingly limiting as that of pianist George Shearing-the handicap of having been born in England. That he was also born blind seems not to bother him very much. So goes the story in his pleasantly conversational autobiography, to some extent the fruit of a collaboration with British jazz writer and broadcaster Shipton (A New History of Jazz). Together they have produced a book that is tightly edited and true to the voice of its subject. Shearing recalls key life events, from his education at London's Linden Lodge School for the Blind (where he learned to read Braille music) and first job as a professional in the local pub to his famous composition "Lullaby of Birdland." In the end, his only complaint is that blindness precluded his participating in sight-reading sessions-a small matter, really, for which he more than adequately compensated by being able to replicate anything after hearing it played once. This ability, combined with the good sense to select Teddy Wilson, Art Tatum, and Fats Waller (among others) as his models, set him squarely on the path he has followed since young adulthood. Suffused with warmth and good humor-Shearing remarks facetiously that he "hates" Waller for the size of his hands (what pianist doesn't?)-this is recommended for larger jazz collections. A companion CD will be released by Concord Records to coincide with the publication of this book.-Harold V. Cordry, Kansas City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

A longtime American citizen, but a native of England, octogenarian jazz pianist George Shearing describes more than 60 years of earning a living and creating music at the keyboard. Born blind to a family living in near poverty, he found his way into the world of music through educational programs for the blind. Shearing established himself as a successful musician before coming to the US in 1947 and embarking on what became an internationally successful career. He was particularly influential in broadening the audience for modern jazz in the 1950s. Although he is not ranked in the top tier of creative jazz pianists, his keyboard skills, popularity, and longevity are almost unequalled. Titled after Shearing's most famous composition, this book is written with a punning sense of humor--a style that marks both Shearing's private life and stage performances. He fills his book with tales of making music with some of the most important jazz artists of the 20th century. Shearing's grace, charm, and humor are everywhere in this book, including the dust jacket photograph, which shows him looking into a mirror adjusting his tie. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers. C. M. Weisenberg University of California, Los Angeles


Table of Contents

1 Early Days in Battersea
2 My first school
3 Linden Lodge
4 Claude Bampton and the All Blind Band
5 The War Years
6 America and Fifty-Second Street
7 Moving to the States
8 The First Quintet
9 The Latin influence
10 Friendships and musical partners
11 Concerts and albums
12 Shearing, Shakespeare and other compositions