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Self Portrait Box set, Original recording remastered

13 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, Original recording remastered, October 23, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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As a clarinetist, he was one of the best, but as a bandleader and jazz innovator, Artie Shaw was peerless. In the various ensembles he led from 1936 to 1954, Shaw pushed swing jazz into new territory. He incorporated classical instrumentation into his arrangements and pretty much invented the genre of "third stream jazz"; he ignored the color barrier by recording with Hot Lips Page in the late '20s and by touring with Billie Holiday; he created volumes of timeless, beautiful, and swinging jazz. But mostly, Shaw kept everyone on their toes, wondering what new, gorgeous sounds he'd create next. The five-CD Self Portrait is the most complete collection assembled of his vast output, and Shaw himself, 91 years young, selected the tracks. It's a fascinating snapshot: the maverick clarinetist's career-long restlessness led to musical innovation and an odd assortment of inventive lineups. Listen to "Streamline" and hear the reckless sounds of Raymond Scott combined with a classical string quartet; hear his pure and pretty clarinet tones on "Begin the Beguine" and instantly understand how it became a hit in the late '30s. The highlights abound and every band--especially the mid-'50s Gramercy Five featuring Tal Farlow on guitar and Hank Jones on piano--is consistently great. Highly recommended. --Jason Verlinde

Disc: 1
1. Nightmare
2. Cream Puff
3. Streamline
4. The Blues-A
See all 23 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. At Sundown
2. Sweet Sue (Just You)
3. Man From Mars
4. Diga Diga Doo
See all 19 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Is It Taboo?
2. There'll Be Some Changes Made
3. Take Your Shoes Off, Baby
4. Just Kiddin' Around
See all 20 tracks on this disc
Disc: 4
1. Begin The Beguine
2. My Heart Belongs To Daddy
3. What Is This Thing Called Love?
4. Get Out Of Town
See all 21 tracks on this disc
Disc: 5
1. Don't Take You Love From Me - Artie Shaw
2. The Chaser - Artie Shaw
3. Star Dust - Artie Shaw
4. Summit Ridge Drive - Artie Shaw
See all 12 tracks on this disc

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 23, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 5
  • Format: Box set, Original recording remastered
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: RCA
  • ASIN: B00005PJBJ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,572 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By F. Barton on November 27, 2001
Format: Audio CD
This is one box set that is worth the money!!! FIVE CDs, crammed full of the BEST of Artie Shaw, covering his entire career. Yes, every band he ever put on wax, - and every label.
It is a treat to have all the different labels together in this set. Not to mention the tremendous "live" performances that were garnered from Shaw's own personal collection!! Of course, die-hard fans who have bought all the lps and CDs of live material will notice a bit of duplication, but they have never sounded better than here. Also Shaw fans are likely to notice favorite tracks not here, like "The Chant." I sincerely wish that ALL the live radio material could be remastered in this sound. Especially those '50s and '60s lps, that were put on CD in Germany, with an introduction by Artie Shaw. There are new live tracks here as well.
To hear the great remastering is a thrill. The only surviving Billie Holiday vocal with his band "Any Old Time" has never sounded better, along with plenty of Mel Torme and the Meltones. It's about time we hear this fidelity, especially on "Concerto for Clarinet" -- which runs ten minutes and includes his two-octave slide and culminating with a double-high C!!!
Every disc is spectacular, I couldn't pick one as a favorite. The remastering is tops, the liner notes great, with many insights by Artie Shaw. The cost of this set may sting, but you will always have one of the discs on. The "Man from Mars" is a different live version than that included on the "Live in Hi-Fi 1939" disc. I have found very little duplication on the live material, and the sound goes right through you. The piano and saxophones come through like never before, and the selections are fantastic, they were hand-picked by Shaw.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Ken on January 30, 2005
Format: Audio CD
There was no one like Artie Shaw and, throughout the Swing Era and beyond, there were no sounds like those that emanated from the succession of orchestras and small groups he led. As a clarinetist, Shaw was in a class by himself - his approach to music was far different from that of his contemporaries, Benny Goodman and Woody Herman. And Shaw's bands, which he led from 1936 until 1954, were equally distinctive.

Shaw's battles with celebrity and the music business are well documented. After a meteoric rise to fame, repeated success with material that bored him and a string of temporary retirements from the performing life, Shaw walked away for good at 44 - at the pinnacle of his musical and creative powers.

He lived for exactly half a century after that, dedicating himself to other passions (with varying degrees of success) and occasionally reflecting on his career and accomplishments as a musician. Although he never played the clarinet again, Shaw made peace with the idea that he'd added a unique and lasting contribution to American music and popular culture. This 5-CD collection represents Shaw's attempt, a few years before the end of his long life, to showcase that contribution in a way that would reconcile with his legendary perfectionism.

Conceived and issued in 2001 with Shaw's full involvement and collaboration, "Self-Portrait" brings together performances by every one of his recorded bands, and provides listeners with a comprehensive overview of his musical career. The 95 selections were personally chosen by Shaw and assembled as "a summing-up, a retrospective of what I consider my best work regardless of label, an overview of my entire career an clarinetist-bandleader.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Mr. DAVID Geer on May 27, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Shaw had a modern angular style to his playing totally unlike Goodman or any other clarinet player yet as the final tracks demonstrate he could outplay Goodman.
Where do you "begin", the other reviewers have said it all but the short and long is, yes this is like a musical biography, yes there is some repetition if you already have a bit of Shaw on CD.
Would I recommend you go get this?
Yes providing.....
1. You like Shaw & want to hear the best from first to last
2. You don't mind some over bright remastering which seems strange especially on disc 5 covering the 1954 recordings
3. You can spare the time to listen, believe you me you will find it hard to break mid CD but that's what you should do if you can
4. There is a tendency especially on Discs 1 & 2 for the beat to be almost a relentless Swing
5. There is nothing wrong with the packaging, I like it and the booklet is well done
6. You should also consider the 3 CD King of Swing live set as the live stuff on here demonstrates how brilliant this band must have been.
7. The last tracks show Shaw in Goodman form and there are perhaps too many notes (I have never much liked the Gramercy 5)
Some last words from me; you will play these discs time and time again, each time you will marvel at the development from a simply swinging dance band to the 1949 band, add to this the jazz sextet stuff and there you have 5 generous amazing discs. As my father and others said, you danced to Goodman and others but you listened to Shaw! This set is hipnotic!
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