[Dixielandjazz] ARTIE SHAW REDUX

Charles Suhor csuhor at zebra.net
Sun Jan 9 10:49:55 PST 2005

I like the 1954 sides--Hank Jones is one of the great accompanists and 
solists--but the early Gramercy 5 sides sparkled with the freshness of 
something new happening, with everybody in great creative form as well. 
The '54 sides have all the maturity and seasoning that Ratliff writes 
about, but for me, the groundbreaking, throw-your-hat-in-the-air joy of 
the early sides is a more rare jazz experience.


Charlie Suhor

On Jan 9, 2005, at 9:45 AM, Steve barbone wrote:

> Posted w/o comment.
> Cheers,
> Steve Barbone
> A Brilliant Farewell to Jazz
> Artie Shaw
> I once heard Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead insist, a little 
> defensively,
> that great artists don't retire. He's almost right, of course. The
> clarinetist Artie Shaw, who died on Dec. 30 at the age of 94, quit band
> leading in 1954 at the top of his game. In his life he did many things:
> created robust Americana with big-band hits like "Begin the Beguine" 
> and
> "Frenesi"; experimented with piano-less jazz as early as 1936; 
> legitimized
> himself over and over again by playing classical repertory; wrote 
> about his
> own work with a kind of Olympian insecurity; married Ava Gardner and 
> Lana
> Turner. But the final recordings of his Gramercy Five sextet, from 
> 1954, are
> especially worth seeking out, whatever trouble it causes you. (A 
> selection
> of 15 are included on "Self Portrait," the five-disc retrospective 
> that Shaw
> himself conceived in 2001; if copies still exist, search for "The Last
> Recordings: Rare and Unreleased," an out-of-print two-CD set, on the
> Musicmasters label.) Including Hank Jones on piano, Tal Farlow on 
> guitar and
> Tommy Potter on bass, they are careful, clear, probing works of group
> effort, those magic confluences of talent and risk that are supposed to
> happen in jazz all the time, but don't, really. Two tracks in 
> particular,
> "Yesterdays" and "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," played quietly, 
> are
> works of supreme insight, as much Hank Jones's perfect moments as 
> Shaw's.
> Only someone who had made art at this level could dismiss jazz after 
> 1954,
> as Shaw once did, as "esoteric and hate-filled."
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