Artie Shaw (1910-2004)
(2009 INDUCTEE) ARTIE SHAW WAS ONE OF THE GREATEST CLARINETISTS, COMPOSER, AND BANDLEADER OF THE 20TH CENTURY. HE MADE HIS FIRST RECORDINGS IN 1926 AT THE GENNETT STUDIO IN RICHMOND.
DEDICATED TO LINDA GENNETT IRMSCHER, TO ASSURE THAT SHE WILL BE REMEMBERED FOR HER SELFLESS SERVICE IN PRESERVING THE GENNETT MUSICAL LEGACY, BY MRS. HENRY GENNETT MARTIN.
Artie Shaw was one of the greatest clarinetists, composer, and popular big bandleaders of the 20th Century. His composition and recording of “Interlude in B-Flat” was among the first to seamlessly synthesize jazz and classical music. Born Arthur Arshawsky in New York City, he would soon change his name to Artie Shaw and teach himself to play the clarinet, ukulele, saxophone, and piano. Shaw’s style was heavily inspired by his love of and intensive listening to the early work of Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, and Frank Trumbauer, who all recorded for Gennett. At age 18, he joined Joe Cantor and his Orchestra as an alto saxophonist. The Orchestra recorded five sides for Gennett in their Richmond studio on August 1, 1928. Unfortunately, Gennett rejected those sessions and destroyed the masters a few weeks later with no reason noted. After a short-lived retirement in 1934, he formed his own orchestra. It made its debut at The Imperial Theater in New York City and was often accompanied by a string quartet. Shaw’s enhanced orchestra reverted to a more traditional big band line-up two years later. He employed Billie Holiday as a songstress, becoming the first white bandleader to hire an African-American female vocalist full time. The band had major hit records including their recording of “Begin the Beguine,” which surpassed a million sales. The string of hit records would have Shaw dubbed “The New King of Swing.” Shaw appeared in several motion pictures and played himself in “Second Chorus,” starring Fred Astaire. He joined the Navy after Pearl Harbor and was asked to lead a band in the Pacific theater. Upon his discharge, he began to study and play classical music, which led to the breakthrough recording of “Modern Music for Clarinet.” During the 1950’s, he wrote and published the semi-autobiographical story the Trouble With Cinderella, and led the Gramercy Five, featuring Hank Jones and Tal Farlow.
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