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The Heart and Soul of Joe Williams & George Shearing by Joe Williams and George Shearing

I hate to use clichés like "Timeless and Classic" because the words seem to be overused and taken out of context in conversations, interpretation, examinations, and situations that pertains to art and music today, but "if the shoe fits" or in this case, if the words fit. This music should be a basic requirement for college acceptance or better still, every newborn in America should be sent home from the hospital with a copy of this CD in their diaper bag as standard discharge procedure. Okay, I’m kidding, but it’ couldn’t hurt.

On this 1971 meeting, Joe Williams’s vocal style complements each song so beautifully. His way of projecting words, clear pronunciation and his uses of dynamics put him in a class by himself. No over blown production or big band distraction makes his vocals stand out, the lyrics, the songs, shine. Letting the listeners use Joe’s voice to feel and imagine.

George Shearing’s playing is as smooth as Joe Williams’s voice. He fills his role without infringing on the song. His ability to paint pictures while weaving in and out of interplay and phrasings all the while keeping the music full and robust. Although the session was done in 1971 and does not reflect the feelings of that period, that’s okay. If one is looking for time sensitive music based on its session dates there are archives upon archives of other recordings out there that will fulfills that need. This CD takes me back to an era where the music and its presentation mattered and its delivery was all about class and style, something that’s too often lost in today’s music. If I have to sum this CD up in a word it would be "Masterful"

The CD has a total of 12 tracks with songs that range from a little over two minutes to three minutes and twenty seconds. The CD goes by pretty fast so set your CD players on repeat.

Being a Crusaders fan I had forgotten what a class drummer Stix Hooper is. He brings just the right ingredients to this project. The bassist Andy Simpkins seems to knows what his contribution to the ensemble is and like many of the great artist of that time, knows it’s about the music and the song first and everything else follows. After all, there is plenty of "wiggle room" in these songs if ego were to have gotten the best of any of these musicians. Fortunately they were all on the same page. Some light sax work would have been nice on some of the tracks but then again; who am I to play "arm chair" producer years after the fact.

If you like easy listening music and easy understanding vocals by a great singer of songs, this is the one.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Joe Williams and George Shearing
  • CD Title: The Heart and Soul of Joe Williams & George Shearing
  • Genre: Traditional / New Orleans
  • Year Released: 1971
  • Record Label: Koch Jazz
  • Musicians: Joe Williams (vocal), George Shearing (piano), Andy Simpkins (bass), Stix Hooper (drums)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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