[Dixielandjazz] Artie Shaw By Floyd Levin

Charles Suhor csuhor at zebra.net
Fri Mar 25 18:01:52 PST 2005

On Mar 25, 2005, at 4:52 PM, Robert S. Ringwald wrote:

> You are a Jazz musician.  You are doing a concert.  you just finished 
> what perhaps might have been the best solo you ever played.  The 
> audience does not respond.  What is your feeling?
> You are a listener.  You just heard a great solo.  Do you applaud?
> Below is Artie Shaw's take on applause while the song is still being 
> played...

  I respect Shaw immensely, but jazz has become far too remote from real 
audience response since the days when it was part of parties, dances, 
parades, and other sites of appreciative interaction. Shaw was a genius 
but let's face it, he was one hell of a recluse, once saying that he'd 
rather have been playing in his living room than for a crowd. A genuine 
problem, which he gets at, is that applauding after each solo has 
become perfunctory, even mandatory. If a solo sucks, we might give it 
polite applause or none at all, but let's really slap 'em together for 
a good solo. The resonance of good feeling more than compensates for 
missing the first phrase of the next player's solo. The no-clap thing 
seems to deny a warm human impulse. It's too bad that it's so rigidly 
embedded in classical music, where a movement might be achingly 
beautiful but we sit on our hands. We're moved by the movement but God 
(or rigid custom) forbid that we should acknowledge it.

Charlie Suhor

> -----
> Artie Shaw on "Applause During a Performance
> By Floyd Levin
> Recently, while sorting through some old files, I came across a
> transcript of Artie Shaw's Keynote Address at the 1998 Convention of 
> the
> International Association of Jazz Record Collectors in Redondo Beach,
> California.
> The following is a small portion of Shaw's sagacious comments made
> without notes during his two-hour non-stop address.  It was in response
> to a question from the audience regarding applause or loud talking
> during a performance.
> He said:
> "I can only suggest that each of you personally can be an emissary.
> Tell people to stop it!  When they start applauding in the middle of 
> the
> piece say, 'Shhhhh!' "Eventually, they might pay attention, that's all 
> I
> can say.  If music is good, it's there to be listened to.  If they do
> not want to hear it, they should go somewhere else -play baseball, 
> anything!
> "I can't understand the need for this immediate display of one's ego.
> ('Boy, I know how good that is, so I'm going to get up and clap!') You
> have nothing to do with it, just be quiet and listen until it's
> finished.  Then you can clap, or boo if you like, but, at least, you
> will have allowed the musicians to say what they had to say!"
> "Tell everybody you know to always hold their applause until the end of
> the number.  Suggest that they also tell that to their friends.
> Hopefully, the truth might come through.  People might ultimately shut
> up and listen.  If they don't want to shut up, they should leave, and
> not spoil it for people who do come to listen.
> " Audiences have a propensity to clap; for a musician after he finishes
> his solo.. The player who follows him tries to enhance what has just
> been played and then make his own musical comment -but the blur of
> applause wipes-out his opening bars.
> "My advice is to pay attention -you will often hear something very
> startling. If you are busy clapping  'to show your appreciation, you 
> are
> not able to listen to what the next soloist is trying to do. It is
> supposed to be a musical conversation, but when people are busy
> whistling, clapping, and stamping their feet; they miss the whole point
> of it! "You would not hear concert audiences clapping when Heifitz
> finished a cadenza in the middle of a Mendelssohn or Beethoven 
> concerto!
> They waited respectfully until the piece  was over.
> "When I was playing music, I often found it necessary to admonish the
> audience -and it did not make me a popular figure!  I remember the last
> time I fronted a band.  I had a fine small group at The Embers in 1954,
> and Hank Jones was my pianist; he was a genius, a great player.  Tal
> Farlow was on guitar, Tal died only recently.  Tommy Potter was playing
> bass.  Tommy was in the first Charlie Parker band.  Joe Roland played
> vibes.  I've got some of the recordings we made that were released on 
> Verve.
> "If people were: talking too loud, I'd stop the band, and I'd say,
> 'Ladies and gentlemen, it's axiomatic that music sounds better against
> silence.  Give me enough silence so I. can hear what I'm doing and we
> can hear each other.  And when you're ready to listen, we'll be back'
> .And I would walk off the stand.
> "Well, most of the audience wanted to hear the band, that's what they
> were there for, so they would applaud my remarks, and finally the noisy
> ones would shut up.
> "If they didn't, I would instruct my band manager to pick up their 
> check
> and tell them to leave.  'Tell them they were my guests -but get out of
> here!' They could not argue with that, and they would be glad to leave
> -and talk somewhere else.  "
> -----
> No one can accuse Artie.  Shaw of reticence !
> My transcript of his remarks, from Dr. Walter F.  Kempe's video, fills
> over 20 single-spaced pages crammed with  Shawisms that bear repeating.
> I plan to eventually re-cycle some additional segments Some are
> shocking, some are reveling. and some are humorous--but they all 
> reflect
> Artie Shaw's insightful, albeit highly opinionated views of the music
> business. Stand by.
> Floyd Levin
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