[Dixielandjazz] Artie Shaw
dingle at baldwin-net.com
Fri Dec 31 12:00:10 PST 2004
Charles Suhor wrote:
> 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 sides.
> 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.
> Charlie Suhor
> Dixielandjazz mailing list
> Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com
I have to admit that the best, and hottest of Benny's sides were made
before he had perfected his double lip embouchure and more classical
tone style. I refer to the wondrous sides made with Red Nichols' larger
band in about 1930. In especial I point to his roaring, soaring, hotter
than hades chorus on China Boy. It was fiall re and the sizzling energy
of a young man reaching for perefection and grabbing hold for the
ride. Sure, the tone was rough, almost grunty and buzzy, but the fire
was there and it remains, to me, the hottest solo he ever achieved. One
man's opinion but it has not changed since the 1940', heard when the
sides were reissued - a rarity for that time when many good jazz sides
gathered dust and criminal neglect in the vaults of many recording
compaines. (Some still do!)
I , too, admired Shaw, but he was never, in all I ever heard, as hot and
on fire as that young Goodman, barely in his 20's when he fired a solo
shot heard round the (jazz) world.
Happy New Year to all -- F.Y.I. - on my turntable tonight will be Lee
Wiley, Bix, Bunny, Casa Loma Stomp, and yes, a Guy Lombardo side because
I loved the little hot mellophone solo spots by the vastly neglected
Dudley Fosdick. Add in some Joe Bushkin, James P. Johnson (his Snowy
Morning Blues just melts me), Maxine Sullivan, and the "Other
Teagarden," Charlie, with Bill Harris, Ron DePhillips, and company from
the 60's quintet at the Silver Slipper in Vegas. So glad they made a
record. More, obviously, it's a long night, but these are for my
peaceful entry into the next year, and thankful to still be around to
hear them all again. God is good -- he gave me ears and people to fill
them with music.
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