CD Review by Joe Regan Jr.
Margaret Whiting and George Shearing, although they both recorded for Capitol Records, never recorded an album together. They were great friends and toured together and when Shearing did a TV series Margaret was his first guest. Through the efforts of Margaret’s daughter, Debbi Bush Whiting, the tracks from this TV show recorded in 1965 have been re-mastered and are now available on “Margaret Whiting and George Shearing The Lost Jazz Sessions,” issued on MTM (My Ideal Music). They are a treasure that any serious music fan will want to have. There are some songs that Whiting never recorded commercially.
Although Margaret, she with the perfect pitch, had many best selling albums in a variety of fields including popular, and country western (the albums with Jimmy Wakely), I never considered her a jazz singer although I have the album she made with Russ Garcia “After Midnight” which is probably the closest she sang in the jazz category. Shearing, to my best memory, only recorded with one other singer, Peggy Lee, on a live Basin Street recording. When he divorced one wife, he appeared at the Playboy Club in Los Angeles with a male singer and without his quintet, a performance I saw.
This album, with the minimal support of Shearing and some first rate musicians including Joe Pass on guitar, ranks way up there with the Ella Fitzgerald and Ellis Larkin and Ella and Louis Armstrong recordings and is even better in my opinion. Shearing told Michael Feinstein that Margaret was his favorite singer!
The word to describe Whiting’s voice on “Here’s That Rainy Day” is “cool.” With Shearing’s amazing piano, the arrangement is stunning and her voice is at her prime. The way she sings “cold rainy day” will give you shudders.
Two of the songs she never recorded commercially are a match up of “Charade” and “Days of Wine and Roses” and her phrasing is amazing. The way she sings/whispers the word “roses” nothing short of poetic!
Whiting really swings on this version of “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and Shearing’s piano and Pass’ guitar are a joy. On “After You’ve Gone,” she starts out with singing it as a straight ballad, but after Shearing’s instrumental break, she does a second chorus with a stronger rhythm difference and it’s great!
Another track that she never recorded commercially is a wild version of “Get Me to the Church on Time” with Shearing’s great ensemble in the most powerful rhythm possible and the way she phrases and sings certain words, including “Church,” will stun you at its smashing finish!
Both Whiting and Shearing died in 2011 and this recording, made with the cooperation of the George Shearing Estate and through the efforts of Debbi Bush Whiting, is a great tribute and is a must for all fans of the Great American Songbook. 50 years later have not diminished Shearing‘s “jazz on the gentle side” and the sexiness of Whiting’s interpretations.
Go to www.magaretwhiting.com/media to get information on how to receive this CD and listen to some of the tracks.