George Shearing: Like Fine Wine

Expecting George Shearing’s new recordings to grip you with their intensity and passion is more than a bit unrealistic; it’s enough that the still spirited octogenarian displays such unswerving focus and taste at this point in his long career. On Like Fine Wine (Mack Avenue), Shearing locks in tight with his longtime partners, guitarist Reg Schwager and the formidable bassist Neil Swainson, for a program of smartly arranged ballads and genial swing and bop performances. The opening track, a gentle bossa-revised take on Coltrane’s normally storming “Giant Steps,” sets the tone for the majority of this pleasurable if only occasionally stirring album.