[Dixielandjazz] Artie Shaw
csuhor at zebra.net
Fri Dec 31 09:10:32 PST 2004
Add my hurrahs to all that's been said about Shaw, especially the
unique Gramercy Five sides, with great use of the harpsichord,
wonderful originals, and splendid Shaw solos. The big band stuff, even
most of the non-classic and non-hit records, were also very special.
How about "Gloomy Sunday" and "Take Your Shoes Off, Baby?" and...etc.
I was the youngest of five in my family, and swing era 78s were my
oldest sister's favorites and the radio hits in N. O. in the early &
mid- 40s. As a child I heard more Shaw and other swing than traditional
and Dixieland jazz, which didn't get popular play until after the War.
The Shaw records (and his dashing good looks) were what inspired my
brother Don to take up clarinet. He bought stacks of Goodman and Shaw
records but he always preferred Shaw. Don was 14 in 1947 when Benny
Goodman gave him a trophy as the best young clarinetist in N.O. He was
just learning how to jam, so ironically, he won by playing two Shaw
solos he had memorized to perfection--"Taboo" and something else. Don
Lasday was the runner up. Pete Fountain didn't make the finals! Don
taught some of the Gramercy Five routines to Amy Sharpe, the banjoist
and leader at the Court of Two Sisters, in the years before his death
in 2003. They worked beautifully.
When Shaw said that Benny "wanted to be an instrumentalist -- he was a
superb technician -- while I wanted to be a musician. I think my mind
was more complex than his,'' I think he short-changed Goodman's
joyfully fluent improvisation (especially on the small-group sides) but
he was right on with the "complex mind" remark. Don used to say that
Shaw didn't just jam his solos, he sculpted them. He swung, but his
lines seemed so well thought out, even on the romping Gramercy Five
Some of the obits stressed Shaw's love life, interesting but a bit of a
distraction from his contributions to music.The Sudhalter chapters in
"Lost Chords" are a good tribute.
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