‘Spirit of Shearing’ opened up with a quickish version of ‘Yesterdays’ which, lacking any Shearing traits, was obviously just a settling-in exercise, because the second number, ‘East of the Sun’ (one of George’s biggest hits) was deep into a GS groove. The two guitars, played in meticulous harmony, produced a theme statement which was incredibly close to the Shearing Quintet original – quite a feat, especially when you consider that Trefor and Andy did not appear to consult any written notation all night. That number also featured a stand-out bass solo from Ed Harrison, the first of many throughout the evening. The first set included two more classic tunes given the GS treatment (‘How About You’ and ‘Lullaby of Birdland’), separated by a bossa-nova ‘Wave’, on which the guitars more than compensated for the lack of percussion.
The second set, apart from one Wes Montgomery composition, was totally dedicated to tunes associated with George Shearing, and could almost have been titled ‘The Best of the Great American Songbook’. I won’t list all these superb melodies, but the highlights for me were two ballads: ‘In a Sentimental Mood’ featured a beautifully atmospheric tenor-sax theme statement by Stuart Johnson, while he did the same trick late in the set on soprano, this time on ‘I’m Old-Fashioned’. That tune prompted the absolute best from all the band, with excellent solos from everyone and a great ensemble ending.
The Shearing programme with no piano did work, and with the two helpings of guitar solos in each number also worked as I thought that there were sufficient stylistic and tonal differences between the two exponents. A very good night of melodic music.
Via: Bruce’s Blog