Artie Shaw

The Complete Artie Shaw, Vol. 1: 1938-39

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The Complete Artie Shaw, Vol. 1: 1938-39 Review

by Scott Yanow

The Artie Shaw success story really began in 1938 with his signing to Victor. Between then and 1945, Shaw would lead and break up four separate orchestras, but his artistic and commercial success would be consistently phenomenal. Fortunately, RCA, in its Bluebird series of two-LP sets, released every Shaw recording in its vaults on eight volumes; unfortunately, much of this music (outside of the better-known hits) has not yet appeared in coherent fashion on CD, so I would advise searching for (and treasuring) the LPs. The first volume finds Shaw debuting on Victor with his giant hit "Begin the Beguine" and continuing with such classics as "Back Bay Shuffle," "Any Old Time" (Billie Holiday's only recording with Shaw), his theme "Nightmare," "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise," if "They Say" (featuring Helen Forrest's vocal) and "Carioca," among many others. It is no wonder that by 1939 Artie Shaw led the most popular big band in jazz and popular music.