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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Jack Ashby




Crotchet
Budget price

Artie Shaw – Star Dust’

Artie Shaw and his Orchestra

RCA Bluebird

090266 39982 6

 

 

 

1

Nightmare

9

Moonglow

2

I Surrender Dear

10

The Man I Love

3

Traffic Jam

11

Innuendo

4

Concerto for Clarinet

12

I Cover the Waterfront

5

Summertime

13

Everything is Jumpin’

6

I Get a Kick Out of You

14

Dancing in the Dark

7

Star Dust

15

Begin the Beguine

8

Lady Day

   

 

This compilation includes several of the most popular recordings by the Artie Shaw

Orchestra between 1938 and 1949. Virtually as soon as the clarinettist formed his first big band he caught public attention. During the next fifteen years or so he made some momentous recordings and enjoyed high personal esteem even though his career ran alongside that of the great Benny Goodman. He retired from playing in 1954 when bebop was developing and a time when the big bands were in decline. That heralded the end of a musical life of one of the swing era’s finest musicians. He had a brief revival as a bandleader in the 1980s. After his retirement he concentrated on writing and lecturing.

Don’t be put off by the opener ‘Nightmare’ - it would have been better elsewhere. ‘Traffic Jam’ is a ‘swinger’ obviously enjoyed by all the band and it is good to hear George Auld’s all too short tenor solo. ‘Concerto for Clarinet’ includes string accompaniment and was composed by Shaw and apart from ‘Begin the Beguine’ was probably his most popular recording. Billy Butterfield’s performance on trumpet and Shaw’s clarinet work are par excellence. Whilst on the subject of trumpet players Roy Eldridge gives an real ‘earthy’ sound on ‘Summertime.’ ‘I Get a Kick Out of You’ features fine solos by Shaw, Al Cohn on tenor and guitarist Jimmy Rainey. The accompanying notes don’t name the arranger of this Cole Porter tune but who ever it was certainly knew how to score for a big band.

‘Begin the Beguine’ recorded in 1938 is another Cole Porter composition and according to Andy Velez’s notes ‘was a breakthrough hit for Shaw and brought him fame at an unparalled (and, according to him, discomforting ) level.’ The up-tempo ‘Innuendo’ composed and arranged by Johnny Mandel has a catchy theme and besides featuring Shaw, and several members of the band contains some clever section work – at times reminiscent of a Sauter-Finegan arrangement. The strict tempo of ‘Dancing in the Dark’ and the predominant strings are characteristic of dance music from the 1940s.

Although I have only highlighted a handful of tracks, for collectors of music from the ‘swing era’ there could be no better example of Shaw’s talent and that of the many musicians he employed than on ‘Artie Shaw – Star Dust.’

Jack Ashby


 



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