123

Artie Shaw: His Life and Music

By

Sign in to view read count
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.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine Book Reviews Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and...
by Doug Collette
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Claude Ranger: Canadian Jazz Legend Book Reviews Claude Ranger: Canadian Jazz Legend
by David A. Orthmann
Published: November 15, 2017
Read Softly, With Feeling Book Reviews Softly, With Feeling
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: October 24, 2017
Read Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life In And Out Of Jazz Book Reviews Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life In And Out Of Jazz
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 13, 2017
Read Jazzing: New York City's Unseen Scene Book Reviews Jazzing: New York City's Unseen Scene
by David A. Orthmann
Published: August 29, 2017
Read David Bowie: Behind the Curtain Book Reviews David Bowie: Behind the Curtain
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: August 20, 2017
Read "Claude Ranger: Canadian Jazz Legend" Book Reviews Claude Ranger: Canadian Jazz Legend
by David A. Orthmann
Published: November 15, 2017
Read "Paul Morley: The Age of Bowie" Book Reviews Paul Morley: The Age of Bowie
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 25, 2016
Read "Jazzing: New York City's Unseen Scene" Book Reviews Jazzing: New York City's Unseen Scene
by David A. Orthmann
Published: August 29, 2017
Read "Go Slow: The Life of Julie London" Book Reviews Go Slow: The Life of Julie London
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: June 30, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor