George Shearing (1919-2011) was one of Capitol Records greatest assets with many big-selling albums to his credit. No surprise then that his piano talents were used to either bolster the reputation of upcoming vocalists Nancy Wilson and Dakota Staton (1930-2007) or augment the shining careers of Peggy Lee (1920-2002) and Nat King Cole (1919-1965) - the latter also a talented jazz pianist turned singer.
Accompanied by the George Shearing Quintet, Dakota Staton’s second album, INTO THE NIGHT, released in 1957, showcases the young jazz singer with I HEAR MUSIC, CONFESSIN’ THE BLUES, THE THRILL IS GONE and three other numbers spaced between half-a-dozen Shearing instrumentals of which FROM RAGS TO RICHARDS and EASY were self-composed.
THE SWINGIN’S MUTUAL, Nancy Wilson’s third album for Capitol was released in 1961 and the dozen selections evenly split between the singer in fairish jazz mode, accompanied by the George Shearing Quintet with ON GREEN DOLPHIN STREET, THE NEARNESS OF YOU, THE THINGS WE DID LAST SUMMER amongst her choices. The Quintet’s half dozen instrumental selections include Shearing’s self-composed inevitable LULLABY OF BROADWAY plus LET’S LIVE AGAIN.
Likewise, with the Shearing Quintet on board, Nat King Cole was free to just vocalise on a delicious selection of numbers with their shared status album rightly titled NAT KING COLE SINGS/GEORGE SHEARING QUINTET PLAYS. Released in 1962, it became a big seller over the years and is now regarded as one of the Nat’s most celebrated collections. SEPTEMBER SONG, PICK YOURSELF UP, FLY ME TO THE MOON, A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP and SERENATA, are amongst romantic choices that equally emphasises Shearing's accompaniment which is tasteful and lightly swinging with the added string choir arrangements courtesy of Ralph Carmichael.
Released as a “live” performance at a Miami convention of disc jockeys in May 1959, Peggy Lee and George Shearing shared the limelight for the best-selling, BEAUTY AND THE BEAT! Only years later (2003) was it revealed that although the duo had actually appeared at the event, the album had actually been recorded in a studio with overdubbed applause, announcements etc!. Avid has rightly chosen the reissued version without the overdubbed ambiance with Peggy swinging, in Latin lilt or bluesy stance for DO I LOVE YOU?, I LOST MY SUGAR IN SALT LAKE CITY, YOU CAME A LONG WAY FROM ST.LOUIS and ALWAYS TRUE TO YOU IN MY FASHION etc. Shearing grabs a his solo piece of the action with MAMBO IN MIAMI, ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? and SATIN DOLL.
All four albums make this an exceptional release yet it doesn’t end there as Avid’s value-or-money policy adds ten tracks by Teddi King, Billy Eckstine and the Ray Charles Singers in company with Shearing from the 1959 MGM Records album COOL CANARIES.
Avid’s attention for detail includes the reproduced album covers plus original sleeve notes and claim the digital remastering gives the finest ever sound quality. I certainly would not argue with that fact. Highly recommended!
The ten earliest tracks on this four-plus collection come from the 1955 MGM album “Cool Canaries” (from which “Nothing New Under the Sun” and “Adieu” have been omitted). Six come from 1952, with vocals by Teddi King, and conclude the first CD, two come from 1951 with Billy Eckstine and two from 1954 with the Ray Charles Singers which round off the second CD. All of the rest were issued originally by Capitol. “In the Night” was recorded in July 1957 and features Dakota Staton’s vocals on alternate tracks. The classic album, “Beauty and the Beat” was recorded with Peggy Lee in front of a live audience in Miami on 29th May 1959. (Note: It was subsequently reissued on a Capitol CD with two bonus tracks, but these are not included). “The Swingin’s Mutual” dates from mid 1960 and January 1961, and Nancy Wilson sings on alternate tracks, and finally, the Nat King Cole album dates from December 1961. It’s a varied and highly satisfying package.
on 9 May 2014
l would happily pay £4.49 for any one of these albums,to get all four at that price,leaves me thinking that the fraud squad can't be far away.nat/george is the standout album on this,beautiful album of ballads essential music,5* sound quality,from a tasteful era,alas long gone.
on 22 October 2014
I know very little about George Shearing other than he's English, blind, and a very successful pianist and orchestra leader, so this very reasonably priced four album compilation was a voyage of discovery. Vocalists appearing with him are NANCY WILSON, DAKOTA STATON, NAT KING COLE, and, far too few tracks of BILLIE ECKSTINE. I suppose Americans would call this cocktail time music, I would agree. It is great for background with a few friends round for dinner or a couple or three glasses of wine. It is evening music and highly listenable, sophisticated even.
on 22 May 2014
Another very good release from Avid Jazz, this features George Shearing in the company of four very well known jazz vocalists. the albums featuring Nancy Wilson, Dakota Staton and Peggy Lee are all very well done indeed and represent a wide variety of styles and content in abundance. Personally I found the recording with Nat Cole a little too "sugary" and, without wishing to detract from the excellent Nelson Riddle Orchestra, I would have preferred to hear him with Shearing and a small group.