Friday, July 25, 2014

Artie Shaw: Begin the Beguine

Artie Shaw was the greatest white clarinetist of jazz, save perhaps, Benny Goodman. Like Goodman, Shaw was a classically trained musician that excelled at playing other styles of music besides jazz. Shaw had his own orchestra which rivaled Benny Goodman’s orchestra in popularity during the Thirties. Shaw had a huge pop hit with the song, “Begin the Beguine” in 1939.

Shaw was born Arthur Jacob Arshawsky in New York City. He faced a great deal of anti-Semitic discrimination during his youth in New Haven, Connecticut, so anglicized his name as Shaw. During the Thirties and Forties, Shaw was the rival of fellow clarinetist and band leader, Benny Goodman.

Shaw’s best work was with the small band he assembled called, The Gramercy Five. The Gramercy Five recordings are considered by jazz critics to be among the best ever jazz recordings.

Essential recordings by Shaw include the following studio albums and collections: The Great Artie Shaw” (1959), “This is Artie Shaw” (1971), “The Complete Gramercy Five Recordings” (1989) and “The Chronological Classics: Artie Shaw and His Orchestra 1938” (1998), and “The Chronological Classics: Artie Shaw and His Orchestra 1939” (1999).
Young Artie