George Shearing (aka The George Shearing Quartet/Quintet/and Strings)

George Shearing album Born in Battersea, London, Shearing was the youngest of nine children. He was born blind to working class parents: his father delivered coal and his mother cleaned trains in the evening. He started to learn piano at the age of three and began formal training at Linden Lodge School for the Blind, where he spent four years. Though he was offered several scholarships, Shearing opted to perform at a local pub, the Mason's Arms in Lambeth, playing piano and accordion. He joined an all-blind band during that time and was influenced by the records of Teddy Wilson and Fats Waller. Shearing made his first BBC radio broadcast during this time after befriending Leonard Feather, with whom he started recording in 1937.

In 1947, Shearing emigrated to the United States, where his harmonically complex style mixing swing, bop and modern classical influences gained popularity. One of his first performances was at the Hickory House. He performed with the Oscar Pettiford Trio and led a jazz quartet with Buddy DeFranco, which led to contractual problems, since Shearing was under contract to MGM and DeFranco to Capitol Records.

In 1949, he formed the first George Shearing Quintet, a band with Margie Hyams (vibraphone), Chuck Wayne (guitar), later replaced by Toots Thielemans (listed as John Tillman), John Levy (bass) and Denzil Best (drums) and recorded for Discovery, Savoy and MGM, including the immensely popular single "September in the Rain" (MGM), which sold over 900,000 copies.

Shearing's interest in classical music resulted in some performances with concert orchestras in the 1950s and 1960s, and his solos frequently drew upon the music of Satie, Delius and Debussy for inspiration. He became known for a piano technique known as "Shearing's voicing", a type of double melody block chord, with an additional fifth part that doubles the melody an octave lower.

In 1956, Shearing became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He continued to play with his quintet, with augmented players through the years, and recorded with Capitol until 1969. He created his own label, Sheba, that lasted a few years. Along with dozens of musical stars of his day, Shearing appeared on ABC's The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom. Earlier, he had appeared on the same network's reality show, The Comeback Story, in which he discussed how to cope with blindness.

In 1970, he began to phase out his quintet and disbanded the group in 1978. One of his more notable albums during this period was The Reunion, with George Shearing (Verve 1976), made in collaboration with bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Rusty Jones, and featuring Stéphane Grappelli, the musician with whom he had debuted as a sideman decades before. Later, Shearing played with a trio, as a soloist and increasingly in a duo. Among his collaborations were sets with the Montgomery Brothers, Marian McPartland, Brian Q. Torff, Jim Hall, Hank Jones and Kenny Davern. In 1979, Shearing signed with Concord Records, and recorded for the label with Mel Tormé. This collaboration garnered Shearing and Tormé two Grammys, one in 1983 and another in 1984.

Shearing remained fit and active well into his later years and continued to perform, even after being honored with an Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993. He never forgot his native country and, in his last years, would split his year between living in New York and Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, where he bought a house with his second wife, singer Ellie Geffert. This gave him the opportunity to tour the UK, giving concerts, often with Tormé, backed by the BBC Big Band. He was appointed OBE in 1996.

In 2007, he was knighted. In 2004, he released his memoirs, Lullaby of Birdland, which was accompanied by a double-album "musical autobiography", Lullabies of Birdland. Shortly afterwards, however, he suffered a fall at his home and retired from regular performing

- As Requested (1972, Sheba ST 105)
- Black Satin (1957, Capitol T-858)
- Blue Chiffon (1959, Capitol T-1124 (mono), ST-1124 (stereo))
- Burnished Brass (1958, Capitol T-1038 (mono), ST-1038 (stereo))
- Concerto For My Love (1962, Capitol T-1755 (mono), ST-1755 (stereo))
- Deep Velvet (1964, Capitol T-2143 (mono), ST-2143 (stereo))
- An Evening with the George Shearing Quintet (1954, MGM E3122)
- The Fool on the Hill (1969, Capitol ST-181)
- George Shearing Goes Hollywood (1959, Lion 70117)
- Here & Now! (1966, Capitol T-2372 (mono), ST-2372 (stereo))
- I Hear Music (1955, MGM E3266)
- Latin Affair (1960, Capitol T-1275 (mono), ST-1275 (stereo))
- Latin Escapade (1957, Capitol T-373)
- Latin Lace (1958, Capitol T-1082 (mono), ST-1082 (stereo))
- Latin Rendezvous (1963, Capitol T-2326 (mono), ST-2326 (stereo))
- Mood Latino (1961, Capitol T-1567 (mono), ST-1567 (stereo))
- Music to Hear (1972, Sheba ST 106)
- New Look! (1967, Capitol ST-2637)
- Night Mist (1957, Capitol T-943)
- On the Sunny Side of the Strip (1960, Capitol T-1416 (mono), ST-1416 (stereo))
- Out of This World (1971, Sheba ST 101)
- Rare Form! (1966, Capitol T-2447 (mono), ST-2447 (stereo))
- Satin Affair (1962, Capitol T-1628 (mono), ST-1628 (stereo))
- Satin Brass (1960, Capitol T-1326 (mono), ST-1326 (stereo)) Diane Webber is featured on the cover of this album.
- Satin Latin (1959, MGM E4041)
- Shearing Bossa Nova (1962, Capitol T-1873 (mono), ST-1873 (stereo))
- A Shearing Caravan (1955, MGM E3175)
- Shearing in Hi-Fi (1955, MGM E3293)
- Shearing On Stage! (1959, Capitol T-1187 (mono), ST-1187 (stereo))
- The Shearing Piano (1957, Capitol T-909)
- The Shearing Spell (1956, Capitol T-648)
- Shearing Today! (1968, Capitol ST-2699)
- The Shearing Touch (1960, Capitol T-1472 (mono), ST-1472 (stereo))
- Soft and Silky (1959, MGM E4042)
- The Swingin's Mutual (1961, Capitol T-1524 (mono), ST-1524 (stereo)) (with Nancy Wilson)
- That Fresh Feeling! (1966, Capitol T-2567 (mono), ST-2567 (stereo))
- Touch Me Softly (1963, Capitol T-1874 (mono), ST-1874 (stereo))
- Touch of Genius! (1955, MGM E3265)
- Velvet Carpet (1956, Capitol T-720)
- When Lights Are Low (1955, MGM E3264)
- White Satin (1960, Capitol T-1334 (mono), ST-1334 (stereo))

George Shearing on Ebay