Jazz Artist of the Week
Arthur Arshawsky "Artie Shaw"
Widely regarded as one of jazz's finest clarinetists, Artie Shaw led one of the United States' most popular big bands in the late 1930s through the early 1940s. Though he had numerous hit records, he was perhaps best known for his 1938 recording of Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine." Prior to the release of "Beguine," Shaw and his fledgling band had languished in relative obscurity for over two years and, after its release, he became a major pop artist within short order. During World War II, Shaw enlisted in the United States Navy and shortly after formed a band, which served in the Pacific theater (just as Glenn Miller's wartime band served in the UK and Europe). After 18 months playing for Navy personnel, (sometimes as many as four concerts a day in battle zones), including Guadalcanal), Shaw returned to the U.S. in a state of physical exhaustion and received a medical discharge. After the war, the popularity of big bands declined, as crooners and bebop began to dominate the charts. In the late 1940s, Shaw performed classical music at Carnegie Hall and with the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein.