George Shearing: So Rare
George Shearing (piano)
George Shearing: From Battersea to Broadway (Proper)
Composed by: Jerry Herst and Jack Sharpe.
Recorded: February 3, 1947
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
“So Rare” marks the start of George Shearing’s U.S. recording career. Prior to 1947, the blind pianist wasn’t known in the U.S., despite his huge popularity in Britain. His records hadn’t been released here yet. But during a four-month stay in New York starting in November 1946, Shearing spent a good deal of time on 52nd Street with jazz impresario Leonard Feather. Shearing was quite taken by the playing of Bud Powell, who by late 1946 had already started adding lush lock chords to his bop lines (listen to Powell’s Roost recordings of January 1947). When Shearing and Feather ran into Savoy’s A&R man Teddy Reig in January 1947, Feather positioned the English pianist as a Powell disciple. Reig agreed to record Shearing on February 3, adding bop sidemen Gene Ramey and Cozy Cole to hedge his bet. When “So Rare” was released soon afterward, its chunky bop feel had a huge impact on popular taste and jazz pianists, including Oscar Peterson. Pianist Johnny Guarnieri even borrowed Shearing’s descending bop line at the tail end of “So Rare” to close out his trio arrangement for Frank Sinatra’s “We Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye,” recorded for Columbia in October 1947.
Reviewer: Marc Myers