ARTIE SHAW Biography - Musicians


Biography » musicians » artie shaw


Name: Artie Shaw                                                                   
Birth name: Arthur Jacob Arshawsky                                                 
Born: 23 May 1910 New York City                                                     
Died: 30 December 2004                                                             
Artie Shaw (May 23, 1910, New York City - December 30, 2004, Thousand Oaks,         
California) is considered to be one of the best jazz musicians of his time. Jazz   
clarinetist, composer, and bandleader, he is also the author of both fiction and   
non-fiction writings.                                                               
Born Arthur Jacob Arshawsky in New York City, Shaw grew up in New Haven,           
Connecticut, where his natural introversion was deepened by local antisemitism     
according to Shaw's autobiography. Shaw began learning the saxophone when he was   
13 years old, and by the age of 16, he switched to the clarinet and left home to   
tour with a band. Returning to New York, he became a session musician through       
the early 1930s. From 1925 until 1936, Shaw performed with a variety of bands       
and orchestras, including those of Johnny Caverello and Austin Wylie. In 1929       
and 1930 he played with Irving Aaronson's Commanders, where he was exposed to       
symphonic music which he would later incorporate into his arrangements.             
Shaw first gained critical acclaim with his "Interlude in B-flat" at a swing       
concert at the Imperial Theater in New York in 1935. During the Swing Era, Shaw's   
big band was popular with hits like "Begin the Beguine" (1938), "Stardust" (with   
a legendary trumpet solo by Billy Butterfield), "Back Bay Shuffle", "Moonglow",     
"Rosalie", "Frenesi" and "Summit Ridge Drive". He was an innovator in the big       
band idiom, using unusual instrumentation; "Interlude in B-flat", where he was     
backed with only a rhythm section and a string quartet, was one of the earliest     
examples of what would be later dubbed third stream.                               
In addition to hiring Buddy Rich, he signed Billie Holiday as his band's           
vocalist in 1938, becoming the first white bandleader to hire a full-time black     
female singer. However, after recording "Any Old Time" she left the band due to     
hostility from audiences in the South, as well as from music company executives     
who wanted a more mainstream singer. His band became enormously successful, and     
his playing was eventually recognized as equal to that of Benny Goodman:           
Longtime Duke Ellington clarinetist Barney Bigard cited Shaw as his favorite       
clarinet player. In response to Goodman's nickname, the "King of Swing", Shaw's     
fans dubbed him the "King of the Clarinet". Shaw, however, felt the titles were     
reversed. "Benny Goodman played clarinet. I played music," he said.                 
Artie Shaw and his band playing "Everything's Jumping" from Second Chorus (1940)   
Shaw did in fact prize innovation and exploration in music more highly than         
popular success and formulaic dance music, despite a string of hits which sold     
more than 100 million records. He fused jazz with classical music by adding         
strings to his arrangements, experimented with bebop, and formed "chamber jazz"     
groups which utilized such novel sounds as harpsichords or Afro-Cuban music.       
The long series of musical groups Shaw formed included such talents as Helen       
Forrest, Mel Tormé, Ray Conniff, Buddy Rich, Dave Tough, Barney Kessel and Tal     
Farlow. He composed the morose "Nightmare", with its Hassidic nuances, for his     
personal theme, rather than more approachable songs. In a televised interview of   
the 1970s, Shaw derided the often "asinine" songs that bands were compelled to     
play night after night. "'Begin the Beguine' is a pretty nice tune," he             
contended, "but not when you have to play it 500 nights in succession."