[Dixielandjazz] Re:Artie Shaw

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sat Jan 1 14:03:50 PST 2005

Russ Guarino <russg at redshift.com> wrote:

> Steve,
> Because of Shaw, you became a clarinet player.  Can you tell us about it?

Not much to tell. Circa 1949 my dad took me to hear Shaw rehearsing his new
band at Nola Studios in NYC. Neighbor Hank D'Amico was also there that day
and he introduced me to Shaw. The music blew me away.

I was a piano student in those days. (weren't we all courtesy of Mom & Dad?)
Shortly thereafter I got to know D'Amico better. (clarinetist with Red Norvo
& Mildred Bailey in the late 1930s, then a studio musician in NYC and free
lance jazz clarinetist) Talked a lot with him about Shaw.

I was also very interested in girls (youthful raging hormones) and the fact
that Shaw and the clarinet seemed to have attracted a bevy of beautiful
actresses along with his other wives, was also a motivator. So I decided to
learn to be a clarinet player in the hopes that I too would attract girls as
well as be able to play creative jazz.

One thing led to another. :-) VBG.

D'Amico then took me to all the jazz clubs in NYC and introduced me to guys
like Bechet, which later led to an introduction to Omer Simeon and then
Edmond Hall, Coleman Hawkins and finally Charlie Parker, plus a whole host
of reed players and other jazz musicians. From then on, It was impossible
not to get hooked on jazz.

But Shaw remained my primary idol for both lifestyle and how he communicated
with the horn.

That 1949 band was a mixture of swing & bop and it was a bitchin band.
Filled with GREAT players and phenomenal arrangers. (ask Bill Haesler) The
music it produced was fresh and astounding but an illness soon forced him to
break it up. 

Anyway, that's how I got started on clarinet. Shaw, to me, was one of the
greatest creative minds/musicians I ever heard. Musically, like Monk, he did
it his way, carrying it one step further by giving it up 50 years ago in
order to pursue other creative endeavors, because he felt trapped by the
public's insistence on playing those songs that made him famous (and
wealthy) in the first place. He was fixated on future creativity, not a
rehash of what he had already done. And since he already had his "Go to
Hell" money, he left the scene.

Yep, "Be all that you can be". Not a bad philosophy and he lived it well.

Steve Barbone

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