Born blind in 1919 in Battersea, South London, Shearing was the ninth child of a coal worker and a train cleaner in a family with no musical background. Indeed, as presenter Melvyn Bragg argues at the start of this film, "nothing in his life gave any hint of what was to come," certainly not that he would share a platform with Louis Armstrong and compose some of the most bone fide jazz standards of all time, like the swooning "Lulluby of Birdland."
Yet, as Shearing explains, as a child he "would toss bottles out of the window on the second floor of our house, just to hear them clank on the sidewalk. For jazz, of course, I would use beer bottles and for classical I'd use milk bottles. So even in those days I had quite a discerning taste." The joint passion for both jazz and classical was something that Shearing held for his entire life, though it was in jazz that his voice found its truest expression.
This enchanting film charts one of music's most interesting and unlikely tales, following Shearing from London in the war to the US, where he had success alongside Nat King Cole and many others. A brilliant piece of interview/documentary filmmaking .
A documentary by John Jeremy