Lullaby of Birdland: An Autobiography

Alyn Shipton and George Shearing met in a recording studio in 1989. The eventual result was their work together on George’s life story. George is that rare thing, a European jazz musician who became a household name in the USA, as a result of the “Shearing sound”—the recordings of his historic late 1940s quintet.

Together with his unique “locked hands” approach to playing the piano, George’s quintet with guitar and vibraphone revolutionized small group jazz, and ensured that after seven years as Melody Maker’s top British pianist, he achieved even greater success in America. His compositions have been recorded by everyone from Sarah Vaughan to Miles Davis, and his best known pieces include “Lullaby of Birdland”, “She” and “Conception”.

His story is all the more remarkable because George was born blind. His candid reminiscences include a behind the scenes experience of New York’s 52nd Street in its heyday, as well as memories of a vast roll-call of professional colleagues that includes all the great names in jazz.