When pianist Benny Green agreed to come to KPLU’s Seattle studios for a solo piano performance he was on tour with his band doing a tribute to the music of Thelonious Monk so it seemed logical to have his studio session consist of Monk compositions.
That was the plan, anyway …
However, just before the session was to begin, in a conversation with KPLU Evening Jazz host Abe Beeson, Benny was surprised and saddened to learned that legendary jazz pianist, George Shearing, had passed away the day before.
Abe asked Benny if he’d like to play a Shearing song in tribute to the jazz master. Benny said, “Yes,” though he’d never actually performed a Shearing composition.
So, in addition to two wonderful interpretations of Thelonious Monk pieces (Introspection & Monk’s Dream), we were treated to Benny’s first performance, ever, of George Shearing’s classic composition, Lullaby Of Birdland. To attempt something like that in a live broadcast was a rather fearless gesture of compassion and respect, and Benny Green pulled it off beautifully.
Somewhere, Shearing and Monk were smiling.