This is another set of records originally on 78rpm,
which have been reprocessed and put into stereo format. The conversion
on this album is exceptional, I have heard most of these tracks before
in their original form and their transformation has to be heard to
be believed, I am very impressed.
Like his contemporary Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw was
of Jewish extraction and I have no doubt that the Klezmer music they
both would have heard as children influenced them as musicians. Although
they came to fame on the same instrument in the same period, there
is very little similarity of style. Goodman’s classical training always
shows through even though he had an excellent jazz feel, but both
men had a phenomenal technique. Artie Shaw had about 25 years as a
bandleader before giving up both playing and bandleading in 1954.
The album begins with Nightmare Artie’s unusual
signature tune and it includes his work with many different bands
over a 13-year period. There are a couple of vocal tracks, one with
Billie Holiday and the other with a young Mel Torme.
Shaw was a very serious musician, as well as writing
arrangements for the band; he also composed many original compositions
as well as playing superb clarinet solos. His technique and tone were
second to none and he coached his band to a high degree of precision.
He also employed the best musicians available, Buddy Rich, Billy Butterfield
and Roy Eldridge are just three of the big jazz names that passed
through the ranks, all are featured here.
This was of course, the ‘pop’ music of the era; Begin
the Beguine, Back Bay Shuffle and Frenesi were all million
sellers! They still sound very good today and have stood the test
of time very well.
If you have some Artie Shaw records already still
get this one - the quality of the reproduction will surprise you,
if you don’t have any of his work, this is an ideal place to start.
Artie Shaw’s bands are of high quality musically speaking and if you
play the clarinet, try playing some of the solos; many transcriptions
are still available. He makes them sound very easy, but be assured
that is something they are not! One of Shaw’s compositions ‘Any Old
Time’ deserves to be heard more often, I would like to have it my
Don Mather is a saxophone player and Bandleader