Amazon.com Widgets

Artie Shaw: His Life and Music

By Published: | 4,595 views
Artie Shaw: His Life and Music
John White
Continuum
2004
192 pages
ISBN: 0826469159

When Artie Shaw (née Arthur Jacob Arshawsky) passed on December 30, 2004, one of the very last Swing Era giants was gone. Clarinetist virtuoso, bandleader extraordinaire, composer, respected author, gentleman farmer, dashing romancer of scores of women, and husband to seven of them, Shaw packed mucho living into his 94 years.

The fame and fortune he achieved as the leader of one of the most accomplished big bands of the '30s and '40s at least temporarily eclipsed even that of his great rival, Benny Goodman. Among his best known recordings are "Frenesi , "Stardust and his 1938 version of "Begin the Beguine , which remains one of the most popular recordings of all time.

Shaw joined a band at age fourteen, evidencing even then the independence which was characteristic of his entire life. By 1929 in Chicago, he was listening to the likes of Jimmie Noone, Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong, the young Benny Goodman and Frank Teschemacher. A major turning point in his career and for American big band jazz came in 1936, with his first public appearance as a leader in history's first Swing concert at New York's Imperial Theater. Then and consistently afterwards Shaw preferred to hire relatively inexperienced players and mold them to his musical preferences. Among them were Buddy Rich, George Auld and Jerry Gray. In 1938, he became the first white bandleader to hire a black female singer, Billie Holiday.

Refreshingly free of the psychobabble so common in celebrity bios, White offers a readable narrative account and assessment of Shaw's achievements and concerns, notably his struggles with fame and public demands versus his artistic impulses. As for an obit, Shaw typically penned his own decades ago: "He did the best he could with the material at hand.


comments powered by Disqus
Support All About Jazz Through Amazon

Weekly Giveaways

Mark Elf

Mark Elf

About | Enter

Stefano Bollani

Stefano Bollani

About | Enter

Carmen Lundy

Carmen Lundy

About | Enter

Wadada Leo Smith

Wadada Leo Smith

About | Enter

Sponsor: Nonesuch Records | BUY NOW

Enter it twice.
To the weekly jazz events calendar

Enter the numbers in the graphic
Enter the code in this picture

Log in

One moment, you will be redirected shortly.

or search site with Google