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Posted at 12:23 PM ET, 02/14/2011

George Shearing dies; pianist, composer was 91

By Adam Bernstein
Adam Bernstein

George Shearing, 91, the virtuosic jazz pianist who wrote the standard "Lullaby of Birdland," died of cardiac arrest today in New York.

Shearing, who was blind since birth, launched his career in his native England before moving to the U.S. after World War II and becoming one of the most successful and enduring jazz musicians of his generation.

On the Ivories, he was capable of many different styles, from dynamic bebop to a quiet but insistent swing. He played with larger groups but attracted his greatest attention for an excellent quintet he fronted for decades. The quintet had such hits as "September in the Rain" and "Lullaby of Birdland," the second of which he wrote in 1952 and named after the celebrated New York jazz club.

A full obituary will appear soon. For now, please leave your thoughts and memories about Shearing.

By Adam Bernstein  | February 14, 2011; 12:23 PM ET
Categories:  Adam Bernstein, Musicians  
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Next: Seinfeld's "Uncle Leo" dies

Comments

Adios George. A hammock, glass of ice tea, a Spring breeze and Shering on the stereo...happiness. Have 20 of his albums...take a listen to his set with Peggy Lee and remember what music used to be.

Posted by: CapnPequod | February 14, 2011 1:10 PM | Report abuse

For all those good times together, the times on the UG, the laughs with Rusty, Andy, Ted, Earl, and the many good glasses of wine with you and Ellie, I am forever grateful. I have a favorite story you told about being in first class with your seeing eye dog prior to passengers boarding up a ramp from the tarmac. You, hearing the pilots talking in the cabin, asked one of them to walk the dog prior to the flight. So, just as the passengers are boarding, here is the captain, most likely with sun glasses, walking a seeing eye dog.

Keep making music Chief. I will miss you.

Posted by: smithsong99 | February 14, 2011 2:25 PM | Report abuse

For all those good times together, the times on the UG, the laughs with Rusty, Andy, Ted, Earl, and the many good glasses of wine with you and Ellie, I am forever grateful. I have a favorite story you told about being in first class with your seeing eye dog prior to passengers boarding up a ramp from the tarmac. You, hearing the pilots talking in the cabin, asked one of them to walk the dog prior to the flight. So, just as the passengers are boarding, here is the captain, most likely with sun glasses, walking a seeing eye dog.

Keep making music Chief. I will miss you.

Posted by: smithsong99 | February 14, 2011 2:25 PM | Report abuse

He showed you don't need empty virtuosity to shine.

Posted by: Garak | February 14, 2011 2:26 PM | Report abuse

A great, great artist, and a witty gentleman as well. I remember hearing Ed Walker interview Shearing on WMAL-AM many decades ago, and them joking about enjoying the Braille edition of the Playboy centerfold.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | February 14, 2011 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I spent one unforgettable afternoon with George Shearing and two friends just listening to Longplay records of pianists.
George never missed identifying one of them.
Then there were the shows; driving him to the WTTG TV show, "Panarama" for a live performance; the times at Charlies in Georgetown; and backstage at the Wolf Trap.
Put them altogether, they probably would equal about 24 hours, one day.
But let's just say it was one of the happiest days of my life.

Posted by: vancegarnett | February 14, 2011 3:18 PM | Report abuse

The world has lost a musical giant, just as it did when Mel Torme died. They toured together for many years and those of us who love the standards and were in the audience when they performed were pretty certain we had died and gone to heaven. Heaven, by the way, is an even better place because George and Mel have been reunited.

Posted by: rrickards10 | February 14, 2011 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I started listening to George Shearing in 1950. His tune, "Bop, Look and Listen", entered my soul, and, over 50 years later, I still find myself humming or whistling that memorable tune. RIP Great One.

Posted by: karl6 | February 14, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

George you will be missed in a very big way.The last time I saw you was at Charlie's along with Mel and the only good thing about your passing is that you will be together again.

Posted by: Joan850 | February 14, 2011 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Another page has closed on The Great American Songbook.

Posted by: buddrs | February 14, 2011 7:55 PM | Report abuse

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