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SHEARING ACCOMPANIES FOUR OF CAPITOL'S GREATEST VOCALISTS AND THEN SOME!,
This review is from: Four Classic Albums Plus (The Swingin's Mutual! / In The Night / Beauty And The Beat / Nat King Cole Sings - George Shearing Plays) (Audio CD)
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!