The legendary George Shearing Quintet sold millions of records in the '50s and '60s. Returning to the famous jazz nightclub nearly half a century after he penned "Lullaby of Birdland," George Shearing and his quintet bring it all home in an inspired performance of jazz past and present.
Having written the theme song for the original Birdland in 1952, Shearing's original composition is considered to be one of the most popular and most beloved of the jazz standards both in the U.S and abroad. It is heard here with featured guest, vibraphonist Don Thompson.
Shearing's inventive arrangements are also on display as he covers selections from Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Kurt Weill, Erroll Garner and Clifford Brown, bringing his unique sense of style and orchestration to this live recording.
From his days as a youth playing in the pubs of London, Shearing has developed into one of the jazz world's most enduring performers, having composed over 300 tunes and received countless awards including two Grammy Awards he won for the recordings he did with Mel Torme. As an elder statesman of jazz, he continues to win over audiences around the world by injecting so much warmth and personality into his performances.
Shearing was born in 1919 in the Battersea area of London. Congenitally blind and the youngest of nine children, his only formal training consisted of four years of study at the Linden School for the Blind. His talent won him a number of university scholarships but he was forced to refuse them in order to earn money playing locally to help support his family. Shearing joined an all-blind band in 1930 and shortly afterwards developed a friendship with noted jazz critic Leonard Feather.
In 1947, Shearing moved to the United States and spent several years establishing his reputation on this side of the Atlantic. With the release of the MGM recording, September in the Rain, Shearing was embraced by the American audience and the album sold over 900,000 copies. That milesone recording led to his first appearance at Birdland and further solidified his popularity among jazz aficionados. In 1982 and 1983 Shearing won Grammy Awards for recordings he made with Mel Torme.
Back to Birdland is Shearing's ninth recording for Telarc and marks his return to the club that propelled him to superstar status.