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Artie Shaw and his band, live from The Blue Room at the Hotel Lincoln in New York, broadcast by CBS on December 6, 1938.
Mixing things up a bit this week – heading into Big Bands of the 1930s territory. Artie Shaw was a major force in the Swing era, despite being overshadowed in history by Benny Goodman, who was dubbed The King Of Swing. Shaw was an innovator in his own right, introducing strings and diverse instruments such as the Harpsichord into the mix and setting the stage for incorporating more complex and sophisticated arrangements into Jazz. Although you could argue that it was Paul Whiteman, going back to the 1920s who set the stage for the inclusion of what were viewed as “more traditional instrumentation” into the mix – it was Shaw, and those after him and his contemporaries who took the concept and ran with it.
All that said – it was still about popularity and selling records and fitting into the mainstream. And a lot of bands who were experimenting at the time got lumped into the heading of Pop Music, since Jazz (don’t forget) was the outlier in the grand scheme of things.
Artie Shaw made some great records and had some memorable collaborations during the period of the 1940s, up until his self-imposed retirement shortly after the War. He resurfaced briefly in 1953 and had one album of Verve before calling it a day.
Artie Shaw recorded a lot, but he broadcast even more and his broadcast output, much of which has been saved and preserved over the years, offers a fascinating glimpse into what you can do when you have a degree of free-reign every week.
This is one of those examples – no strings yet, we’re still hip-deep in Swing. Enjoy.