[Dixielandjazz] Artie Shaw / Survival Bands

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Fri Jun 24 06:22:22 PDT 2005

"Stan Brager" <sbrager at socal.rr.com> wrote (polite snip)
> Artie Shaw had his own way of dealing with the problem as you and others
> have pointed out. However, I doubt that Shaw would have stayed with music as
> he so stated in the Sudhalter interview.

I respectfully disagree. I think Shaw spoke for himself which should erase
our doubts. 

> He would have tired of having to
> appear in public as a performer playing the same clarinet night after night.

I respectfully disagree. Shaw, according to his own words did not play
clarinet. he played MUSIC. There is a HUGE difference between the two. This
is clearly brought out in Sudhalter's book and one of the reasons for my
earlier post extolling the virtues of the book. One cannot understand Artie
Shaw without studying his life thoroughly. He was much to complicated a

> And he knew that he wasn't enough of a jazzman to compete on that basis
> alone.

Perhaps Shaw did not see himself narrowly defined as a "Jazzman"? As a maker
of music, "Music" was his primary concern. Not jazz, not clarinet, but
music, as he defined it on his own terms. He did not want to compete for
audience anymore. He did not want to pander to it. And so he chose to write
books, rather than to make music which he would like, but the audience would
not and therefore would not support his efforts monetarily. As a maker of
music, he was superb. He could have competed any way he chose, he was that
good a musician, jazz or otherwise.

I think Shaw may have been saying that he would have stayed with music if he
could make a living composing/arranging/playing what HE LIKED, without the
necessary pandering to the audience to make money, which he felt stifled
creativity since they wanted the same old, same old.

Perhaps very similar to the real jazzman who makes no concessions to
audience and starves, except that Shaw chose to give it up and prosper.

> The only jazz leaders to truly survive were Count Basie, Duke Ellington,
> Woody Herman, and to a lesser extent, Harry James.

And Ellington survived only because he subsidized his Band by paying it from
the royalties he earned on compositions etc. They were not self supporting
on a performance fee basis.

Steve Barbone

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