Artie Shaw was perhaps the most forward thinking of the big band leaders of the 1930s and '40s, and while he was adept at generating material that fared well on the pop charts, he also cut edgy, spooky pieces like his signature "Nightmare" that pushed against the grain, and running through everything he did was his wonderful clarinet playing, always smooth, explosive and inventive. This well-sequenced collection brings together tracks from his peak years with RCA's Bluebird imprint, including Shaw's hugely popular 1938 version of Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine," the near-perfect "Traffic Jam," and the enticing "Temptation." "Nightmare" is not here, however, and some of Shaw's best-known tunes, like "Fenesi," "Stardust," and "Moonglow," are also absent, but this is intended as an upbeat sampler, with the rhythms never slowing past mid-bounce. Some of these selections, like "Just Kiddin' Around," feature string arrangements augmenting Shaw's traditional big band jazz setup, a radical innovation at the time. Purposely skewed toward the upbeat dance side of Shaw's repertoire, Jazz Moods: Hot isn't an ideal introduction to Shaw, but it swings without mercy, and for listeners looking for a lively set for a jitterbug session, it's darn near perfect.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett