Artie Shaw • Self Portrait

One of the greatest jazz clarinetists of all time, Artie Shaw (1910-2004), had a surprisingly brief career considering his stature and his long life. While he first recorded with Irving Aaronson’s Commanders in 1930 and was a studio musician during the worst years of the Depression, the first time that Shaw was featured with a small group (discounting a slightly earlier commercial set led by Adrian Rollini) was a Wingy Manone session from Aug. 15, 1934 that on different tracks had Jelly Roll Morton or Teddy Wilson on piano. If one considers that to be the real start to his career, it would only be 20 years before Shaw shocked the music world by retiring. He would not play another note in public during his last half-century on earth. In 2001, Artie Shaw was asked to compile a five-CD box set of the recorded highlights of his career. For Self Portrait, Shaw picked out 95 selections which (other than beginning with his theme song “Nightmare”) were programmed in chronological order. A special bonus is the large booklet which includes a very informative 36-page interview conducted by the late Dick Sudhalter with Shaw. In picking the recordings, the bandleader went out of his way not to include any commercial material or throwaways. While Billie Holiday’s one recording with the band (“Any Old Time”) is included along with a few Tony Pastor vocals, Helen Forrest’s many recordi
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Since 1975 Scott Yanow has been a regular reviewer of albums in many jazz styles. He has written for many jazz and arts magazines, including JazzTimes, Jazziz, Down Beat, Cadence, CODA, and the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, and was the jazz editor for Record Review. He has written an in-depth biography on Dizzy Gillespie for He has authored 11 books on jazz, over 900 liner notes for CDs and over 20,000 reviews of jazz recordings.

Yanow was a contributor to and co-editor of the third edition of the All Music Guide to Jazz. He continues to write for Downbeat, Jazziz, the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, the Jazz Rag, the New York City Jazz Record and other publications.

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