February 15, 2011

Jazz Love: George Shearing

I'm moving my Jazz post up a day this week because I found out one of my favorite jazz legends, Sir George Shearing, passed away yesterday.  Famous for his tune "Lullaby of Birdland" (among many many others), I fell in love with his work because of his long time friendship with my favorite jazz singer, Mel Torme.  They toured together for many many years, performing a set of jazz hits from WWII, updated for the modern ear, and oh-so-wonderful.  (They toured up until Torme's death in 1999.

His own hit, "Lullaby of Birdland" was so popular that, according to the Telegraph, "Shearing was well-used to being known for little else. At one concert, almost half a century after Lullaby had been composed, he introduced it by saying: "I have been credited with writing 300 songs. Two hundred ninety-nine enjoyed a bumpy ride from relative obscurity to total oblivion. Here is the other one." on the recording of "Birdland" below, he sings the song at first, and then Mel Torme picks it up, with some crazy (fantastic!) scats. One of my all time favorite recordings.

May he rest in peace!

(PS. R+J's music month is continuing, and this week we're doing George Gerswhin's Rhapsody in Blue. Talk about jazz LOVE. Tune in for all the details.)


  1. Sarah Vaughn does two great takes on "Lullaby of Birdland" on her superb 1955 "Sarah Vaughn with Clifford Brown" album.

  2. yes! I love her versions! Like Mel Torme, she has such a nimble voice, that suits the song well.