While oscillating between retirement and comebacks throughout the '30s and '40s, clarinetist Artie Shaw cut several incredible sides from 1938-1939. After ditching a string orchestra setup, Shaw formed his first big band in 1937 and eventually gained fame with his signature performance of "Begin the Beguine." The bandleader would go on to commit a slew of numbers to wax up until another retirement in 1939. Besides Bluebird covering the core recordings on several reissues, a few smaller labels have picked up the slack with sizable helpings of fringe material like these radio broadcasts. While this 22-track Hindsight collection covers the day's usual standards in instrumentals like "Stardust" and "Rose Room," it also features two fine vocal turns by regular band singer Helen Forrest ("What's New," "This Can't Be Love"). Satchmo imitator Tony Pastor also gets a few rounds in with entertaining renditions of "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" and "Sweet Adeline." For his part, Shaw is impressive throughout on several lithe and liquid clarinet solos. Other standout instrumental performances are notched up by tenor saxophonist George Auld, trumpeter John Best, guitarist Al Alvola, and drummer Buddy Rich. Certainly not essential, but a very enjoyable listen all the same.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook