London-born George Shearing moved to New York in 1947, and became known not only for his piano playing, but also for his wit. A prolific composer, his first “hit” was actually Harry Warren’s “September in the Rain.” His own “Lullaby of Birdland” became a standard.
At an 80th birthday celebration in New York City’s Carnegie Hall in 1999, Shearing introduced “Lullaby of Birdland” by reminding the audience he had been credited with writing some 300 songs in his career.
“Two hundred ninety-nine enjoyed a bumpy ride from relative obscurity to total oblivion,” he said. “Here is the other one.”
Born in the Mississippi Delta, Mulgrew heard blues, gospel and country music growing up. He saw Oscar Peterson on television, and decided that jazz would be his direction. His “finishing schools” included stints with Betty Carter, Woody Shaw and Art Blakey. His celebrated quintet Wingspan focuses on his own compositions.
“…I play music for the joy of it. [Critical praise] is just something to use in your résumé because it impresses people. I try to be honest with myself and about what I need to accomplish.” –Mulgrew Miller
Baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan had a series of “Mulligan Meets…” recordings, with the likes of Ben Webster and Stan Getz. But the pairing of Mulligan’s West Coast cool sound and Thelonious Monk’s “radical and angular” playing and modern compositions seemed an odd fit. But it’s actually the contrast between the two that makes this recording work so well.