Frank Denton - The Rogue Raven

Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

What you have here is an old guy. In education for 30 years, started teaching elementary, ended as library and media director of community college. I've enjoyed mountain climbing, sports car rallying, was pipe major of a bagpipe band, played guitar and sang during the folk revival, walking and hiking later in life. Now fairly sedentary. Enjoy reading, esp. mysteries and fantasy, but my reading is pretty eclectic. Enjoy movies, giving Netflix a workout.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

George Shearing Dies

George Shearing, jazz pianist, has died. Shearing was a piano stylist and probably today would be termed soft jazz. He was quite popular in the fifties and had many fans during his working life. George was blind and it was interesting to watch him play and to see him get around during his intermissions. Of course there have been other blind pianists: Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and Marcus Roberts some immediately to mind.

In the late forties and early fifties I was working in a plywood mill in order to pay for my college education. Going to school during the day, I worked the swing shift, roughly four to midnight. There was a jazz show on the local radio station. My wife, Anna, was listening one evening. There was a quiz with the prize of two tickets to hear George Shearing. No one had won by the time I got home sometime after midnight. The jazz dj had played a jazz piece featuring a clarinet, piano and drums. Identify the players. I said that had to be the Benny Goodman Trio, with Benny Goodman on clarinet, Teddy Wilson on piano and Gene Krupa on drums. She immediately called the program and we won two tickets to see George Shearing at some funky roadhouse outside of Olympia, WA.

I remember that I had to borrow my folks’ car because we didn’t own one. We drove from Tacoma to Olympia and had a wonderful evening listening to Shearing. At one intermission I was able to talk with him for a few minutes. There was not a very big crowd. I told him the story of how I had won the tickets. He chortled and said that he was glad that I had known the answer. That’s a fond memory from sixty years ago.