The Shearing Sound (George Shearing)

George Shearing In Concert Freedom Jazz Dance Single scaled e1700072604324

“Can anybody be given a great degree of creativity? No.
They can be given the equipment to develop it – if they have it in them in the first place.” 
-George Shearing

Legendary jazz pianist George Shearing is among the most popular and respected musicians of all time. His splendid “locked hands” technique, coupled with a tender touch, have made him one of the few pianists with a recognizable sound. An improviser with a flair for style and melodic elegance, many musicians have credited him with “opening up their ears to the beauties of tone.


George Shearing was born blind into a poor working-class family in Battersea, London in 1919. As a young boy Shearing showed musical talent by memorizing tunes he had heard on the radio and picking them out on the family’s piano. He went on to study Braille music in a local school for the blind, his only formal musical training. Although George Shearing was offered generous scholarships to study music in a university, he chose to play piano in local pubs in order to have pay the bills. In addition, Shearing joined an all-blind band as an accordionist.

In 1947, George Shearing moved to America to pursue a career in music. Eventually, Shearing forted a quintet (piano, vibraphone, guitar, bass and drums), and in 1949 recorded “September in the Rain”, a seminal record that became an immediate hit and helped to establish the “Shearing Sound”. The style is defined by harmonized block chords on the piano an octave apart with the melody played in unison with vibes an octave higher and guitar an octave lower.


George Shearing continued to experiment with different genres of music – swing, bebop, and modern classical music have influenced his compositions. He incorporated Afro-Cuban styles into small group settings, and he also recorded with several vocalists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Mel Torme, and Joe Williams.

In the 1980s George Shearing focused on playing straight ahead jazz and won two Grammies for recordings with Mel Torme. Shearing composed some 300 compositions, most notably “Lullaby of Birdland” with lyricist George David Weiss. The song was commissioned as the theme music for a radio show based around the famous Birdland club in New York. Shearing has made nearly 50 recordings as a leader and received numerous honors in England and America. He was knighted in 2007. 

 “So, the poor, blind kid from Battersea became Sir George Shearing.
Now that’s a fairy tale come true.”
-George Shearing

George Shearing passed away in 2011. He will forever be remembered for his talent, his generous spirit, sense of humor, and of course, the “Shearing Sound.”

George Shearing and Joe WilliamsGeorge Shearing pictured here with his frequent collaborator, jazz singer Joe Williams. Watch Shearing being interviewed by Williams HERE 


Arkadia Records produced a historical recording of George Shearing performing along bassist Neil Swainson called “Lullabye of Birdland” in the beautiful Paul Masson Winery. Enjoy an Arkadia Exclusive of their performance of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart standard “Isn’t It Romantic” from 1991. 

The full performance of the concert is available from Arkadia Records. Click HERE to see the DVD.
To purchase a CD or a DVD of George Shearing performing with Joe Williams click HERE.
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