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    Jazz pianist George Shearing dies at 91

    Jazz pianist George Shearing dies at 91

    George Shearing, blind from birth, played in an all-blind band before becoming Britain's leading boogie-woogie artist. In the U.S., he hit on a jazz formula that established him in the jazz world and made him one of its leading artists for half a century.

    George Shearing, the elegant pianist who expanded the boundaries of jazz by adding an orchestral sensibility and a mellow aesthetic to the music, has died. He was 91.

    A prolific songwriter, he once introduced "Lullaby of Birdland," written in 1952 in celebration of the fabled New York nightspot and its radio show, by saying: "I have been credited with writing 300 songs. Two-hundred-ninety-nine enjoyed a bumpy ride from relative obscurity to total oblivion. Here is the other one."

    His autobiography, "Lullaby of Birdland," was released in 2004.

    Over the years, he played for three U.S. presidents — Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan — and Queen Elizabeth II. An anecdote he related to Feather about his brush with royalty said much about his sharp wit.

    "When we were preparing to be received [by the queen], I was told that the directive is: Do not extend your hand until the queen extends hers. I said, well, either somebody's going to have to cue me or she'll have to wear a bell. But somebody did cue me," Shearing said.

    For the full story visit the Los Angeles Times

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