This DVD/remastered audio CD set includes a stellar representation of Artie's live work with special performances taken from select movie clips, as well as insightful live interviews, and awesome short entitled Artie's Class in Swing.
Decades into his self-imposed retirement, Artie Shaw is too often thought of as the popular swing bandleader and clarinetist who scored with "Begin the Beguine"--and not appreciated as the brilliant innovator and risk-taker who skirted big-band formula. The 2001 box set, Self Portrait
, programmed by the man himself, showed off his music in full multi-dimensional flower. This CD/DVD set, part of Bluebird's Centennial Collections
series, shines a light on his genius via its brainy arrangements, brawny swing, and luminous melodies. Concentrating on the period from 1938 to 1941 and featuring radio-broadcast recordings, the set will satisfy big-band nostalgia with tunes such as "Beguine" and "Frenesi" while engaging contemporary tastes with the clever touches in songs such as "Traffic Jam" and "The Grabtown Grapple" (which features Roy Eldridge
and is one of only two tracks here by his phenomenal Grammercy 5 small group). There's also Shaw's full-blown "Concerto for Clarinet." The DVD includes the hokey short film, Class in Swing
(1939), two performances from the forgettable 1939 Fred Astaire musical Second Chorus
, and an engaging 2001 interview with the cranky, insightful Shaw. --Lloyd Sachs