Artie Shaw The Last Recordings Volume 3

The material on CD 1 dates from the latter half of Artie Shaw’s career as a bandleader, which ended with his retirement in 1954. Always presenting tasteful and often unusually deep interpretations of big-band jazz and dance music, and featuring his exquisite and frequently profound clarinet improvisations, Shaw’s career climaxed in his rise to superstar status as the most popular musician in North America at the height of the Swing Era in 1939.


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CD1 Mixed Bag 1945-46
1. The Hornet                                                                  Artie Shaw - Clarinet
2. The Glider                                                                   Roy Eldridge, Stan Fishelson, Bernie Glow, George Schwartz - Trumpets
3. Love of my Life                                                           Harry Rogers, Gus Dixon, Ollie Wilson, Bob Swift - Trombones
4. Let’s Walk                                                                   Rudy Tanza, Lou Prisby - Alto saxes
5. Love for Sale                                                              Herbie Steward, Jon Walton - Tenor saxes
6. My Heart Belongs to Daddy                                    Chuck Gentry - Baritone sax
7. Begin the Beguine                                                    Dodo Marmarosa - Piano
8. Get Out of Town                                                        Barney Kessel - Guitar
9. What Is This Thing Called Love?                          Morris Rayman - Bass
10. Guilty                                                                         Lou Fromm - Drums
11. I’ve Got the Sun in the Morning                            Mel Tormé and the Mel-Tones - Vocals
12. Changing My Tune
13. It’s the Same Old Dream
14. Anniversary Song
15. For You, For Me, Forever More
16. I Believe
17. When You’re Around
18. Connecticut
19. Sunny Side Up 

CD2 The Big Band 1949
1.Krazy Kat                                                                      Artie Shaw - Clarinet
2. I Cover the Waterfront                                              Dan Palladino, Don Fagerquist, Dale Pierce, Vie Ford - Trumpets
3. Fred's Delight                                                            Sonny Russo, Fred Zito, Angie Callea, Porky Cohen - Trombones
4. Stardust                                                                      Herbie Steward, Frank Socolow - Alto saxes
5. Aesop's Foibles                                                        Al Cohn, Zoot Sims - Tenor saxes
6. Orinoco                                                                       Danny Bank - Baritone sax
7. They Can't Take That Away from                           Me Gil Barrios - Piano
8. Smooth 'n Easy                                                        Jimmy Raney - Guitar
9. I Get a Kick out of You                                             Dick Nevison - Bass
10. Afro-Cubana                                                           Irv Kruger - Drums
11. So Easy
12. 'S Wonderful
13. Innuendo
14. Similau
15. Carnival
16. Mucho De Nada


"...might rank with the best bands Shaw ever had."

Artie Shaw was probably one of the most charismatic yet enigmatic figures who rose to be the number one bandleader in the world during the height of the big band period of the late 1930's to the mid 1940's. Coupled with his matinee idol looks (he married eight times, including Lana Turner and Ava Gardner among his wives), he was a brilliant clarinettist with a beautiful liquid tone in the upper registers and subsequently was known as “The King of the Clarinet”. During his heyday, he recorded prodigiously and his output included countless tunes that were considered as classics both then and now.

Mixed Bag is an appropriate title for CD1, as the first four songs come from what was Shaw’s last band in 1945 and the other 14 tunes were with a pick-up studio orchestra with strings. Among those first four, of particular note are The Hornet and The Glider both of which are originals by Buster Harding who later was known for his work with Count Basie and have fiery trumpet solos by Roy Eldridge. As part of the studio sessions, Shaw offered a reworking of his 1938 hit Begin the Beguine but with strings added. It turned out to be a pale comparison to the original, especially the version that was part of Shaw’s live Blue Room at the Hotel Lincoln sessions. Looking to experiment further with these recordings, Shaw then decided to hook up with a twenty-year-old singer named Mel Tormé and his little vocal group the Mel-Tones. The idea was to use them as a “section” along with the brass, reeds and strings. This combination produced something of a minor hit with What Is This Thing Called Love? Now while none of the other tracks such as Guilty, Get Out Of Town, and I've Got The Sun In The Morning reached hit status, the Mel-Tones became the precursor to such jazz-influenced vocal groups as the Four Freshmen and Manhattan Transfer. It should also be noted that Shaw is the featured soloist on all tracks, and he does some excellent work - particularly on The Anniversary Song and more interestingly on Love For Sale which was one of the first examples of overdubbing. Finally the disc finishes with a surprise, Sunny Side Up, a Shaw original which comes from his 1954 Gramercy Five and was the last one he led before his retirement.

CD2 entitled The Big Band 1949 refers to the band originally brought together by Shaw because he was having troubles with the US Internal Revenue Service and he needed to find a way to raise some money. Staffed with first-rate musicians such as Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, Don Fagerquist and Jimmy Raney among others, this was a bop-inspired unit that lasted only a few months because audiences were turned off by the band's arrangements. In retrospect this seems unusual as the arrangers in question such as Tadd Dameron, Johnny Mandel, Gene Roland and George Russell reached iconic status in later years. Among the tracks showcased here, Tadd Dameron contributed the boppy Fred’s Delight, Johnny Mandel arranged Krazy Kat, George Russell offered the polytonal Similau and Gene Roland was front and centre with Aesop’s Foibles.

As expected, Shaw’s clarinet sails over the ensemble playing with his usual virtuosity and he takes up the lion’s share of the solo space. Most of the tenor solos are by Al Cohn although Zoot Sims can be heard to good effect on I Cover the Waterfront.

It was fortunate that Shaw decided to bring this group into the studio during its brief history, as these tracks appear to be the complete recorded output of this organization which might rank with the best bands Shaw ever had.

The original sides were released by MusicMasters, and Nimbus has done a terrific job with the digital re-mastering. In addition the liner notes are especially comprehensive.

Pierre Giroux,

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