Customer Reviews: The Essential Artie Shaw
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Customer Reviews

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on July 9, 2006
First off, the bad...The tracks are not in chronological order, which i don't like. I like to hear the band's progression through the years. Also, the early years had a smaller band, without strings. Later, the band brass/reed section got larger, and he added strings for a lusher sound. If they would have done it chronologically, then you could have 2 discs, one for whichever mood you're in: the early hard swingin' big band, or the later more lush string-laden band. Luckily, i have iTunes and a CD burner.

Now the good. I won't tell you about Artie Shaw. There's a million websites for a history lesson. You are reading this for a review of the CD...not the artist. The re-mastering is probably about as good as they will get this music to sound...or at least with current technology. The bass is deep, but not so much that it drowns out any other instruments or clarity. The high end is very bright, although a tad shrill at times, on the earliest recordings (necessary to avoid losing clarity and fidelity) and the mid range is clear and defined.

NOTE: As another reviever noted, there are a few tracks with some scratchiness to them...but they are in the original acetates, of which some are in better conditions than others. However, it's a fine line to walk when mastering. The more scratchiness the engineers remove, the more clarity you will also remove. I've heard CD's with music as old as the 1920's with NO SCRATCHINESS, but they sound SO DULL as well. No punch. It's like listening to music with cotten in your ears. So, engineers have to pick the line where the level of scratchiness is acceptable to maintain a certain level of clarity. They have certainly done that on this CD set.

If you are a fan, new or old of Swing music, and you want a good sampling of some of the swing kings, these "Essential" ones by Columbia/Legacy/Bluebird are the way to go. They have the best sound, they fit a lot of music on the discs, and aren't very expensive. If the guy you're looking for is not available, try the "Bluebird's Best" series. They are mastered by the same people, and sound great as well. Shy away from the import bootlegs by companies you've never heard of. Sure, they'll give you more for your buck, but without access to the original acetates, they remaster from old 78's, or from other's later LP and CD collections. They just do NOT sound as good. Trust me, i've tried many labels. So stick with the major labels, and (usually), the newer the re-mastering, the better.

Good luck, and keep swingin'!
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The Essential Artie Shaw is a wonderful two CD set of the music that made Artie Shaw one of the very best big band leaders the world has even known. This music is very special even today and it's a great way for people to discover the infinite talents of Artie & His Orchestra. The quality of the sound is very good; and the artwork impresses me.

"Begin the Beguine" starts off the first CD with a huge hit for Artie Shaw & His Orchestra. I love it! The brass sounds great in this musical arrangement; and listens for "Deep Purple." "Deep Purple" features the great Helen Forrest singing her heart out as Artie and his band mates play flawlessly. Helen's voice never sounded better and her excellent diction bolstered her performances very well. "Oh! Lady Be Good" is yet another number that only Artie Shaw & His Orchestra could play so well--they were THAT good.

"Georgia On My Mind" has a somewhat jazzy arrangement that, mixed with the big band sound, really makes this number fly. "Any Old Time" and "April In Paris" shine just as brightly, too. "Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise" was a huge hit for Artie Shaw; and just one listen will tell you why. "Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise" is a major highlight of the first CD. "Blues in the Night" sounds great; and when Oran "Hot Lips" Page joins in to sing the lyrics it sounds even better than any instrumental version I've veer heard.

The second CD continues the hits. "Frenesi" was another major hit for Artie Shaw & His Orchestra; I always liked this tune. "Take Your Shoes Off, Baby (And Start Runnin' Through My Mind)" again features Oran "Hot Lips" Page; and it all works very well. "Indian Love Call" was a huge movie hit; and when Artie Shaw does this tune he does great justice to this number. "I Can't Believe That You're in Love With Me" along with "Star Dust" shine bright; Bette Davis always loved "Star Dust" and when you hear Artie Shaw & His Orchestra perform this there'll be no secret as to why Bette loved it so very much. Although "Streamline" is actually an alternate take, it sounds blissful to me and I think you'll enjoy this number if you like this type of music.

"What Is This Thing Called Love?" showcases just how well Artie Shaw & His Orchestra could play a most romantic ballad and make it swing; and listen for "Alone Together" which gets a very sensitive treatment by these great artists. The second CD ends strong with Artie Shaw & His Orchestra performing "Nightmare." "Nightmare" is a number Artie and his mates sometimes played at the beginning or the end of a radio broadcast.

Overall, The Essential Artie Shaw is a wonderful compilation of Artie Shaw's best work with the members of his orchestra. I highly recommend this for fans of swing and big band music.
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on February 24, 2006
I had heard Artie Shaw through a collection of big band music that just happened to have one of his hit singles "Frenesi" in it. I was amazed and wanted to hear more of Artie Shaw so I picked up this CD. I was very impressed and Artie Shaw has become my favorite big band leader. There are plenty of songs and all of them are a joy to listen too. Artie Shaw on his clarinet is just amazing, and I really recommend this CD to anyone that likes big band or jazz music in general. Artie Shaw was very unique and one of the best natural musicians of all time. My favorite song might be "Begin the Beguine", it is just beautiful. This CD really does a good job in presenting the best of Artie Shaw and the sound quality is good but I expected a little better since it said it was "Digitally Remastered" but sometimes I like that little fuzz because it adds to the atmosphere.
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on October 12, 2013
These are original recordings. The sound quality on the CDs is rather good, given the early sources. Editing could have been better at removing hiss and some "tics" or scratches, but these are generally at low levels. (I know the argument that sound quality suffers as you remove more noise, but I have found that you can manually remove individual "tics" and use a software program to remove hiss, both with nil impact on sound quality.) Maybe a reissue of this CD set will be made with improved editing.

For my music files, I tend to collect the tunes that were individually top hits on the Billboard 100 charts; however, I do pay attention to other charts and consider tunes that were on top hit albums.

Shaw had 49 individual top forty hits, 27 top ten hits, and 4 number ones, all on the Billboard 100 pop charts. (Sources may differ slightly on the exact number.) Here you have 18 top forty, 14 top ten, and 2 number ones. Below is a list of the tracks on this CD set with their peak Billboard 100 positions indicated (with the year).

I would have liked to have seen more top hits, e.g.:
They Say (1938) #1
Thanks for Everything (1939) #1

CD 1:
1. Begin the Beguine (1938) - #1
2. Special Delivery Stomp (1940)
3. Non Stop Flight (1938)
4. Deep Purple (1939) #17
5. Oh! Lady Be Good (1939)
6. Scuttlebutt (1945)
7. Shoot the Likker to Me, John Boy (1937)
8. St. James Infirmary Blues (1941) #18
9. Georgia on My Mind (1941)
10. April in Paris (1940)
11. Any Old Time (1938)
12. All the Things You Are (1940) #8
13. Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise (1938)
14. Back Bay Shuffle (1938) #8
15. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (1940) #24
16. Tabu (1945)
17. Blues in the Night (1941) #10
18. Concerto for Clarinet (1940) #10

CD 2:
1. Frenesi (1940) #1
2. Summit Ridge Drive (1941) #10
3. Take Your Shoes Off, Baby (1941)
4. It Had to Be You (1944) #10
5. Don't Take Your Love from Me (1941)
6. Indian Love Call (1938) #6
7. Dancing in the Dark (1941) #9
8. Deep in a Dream (1938) #3
9. I Can't Believe that You're in Love with Me (1938)
10. Star Dust (1941) #6
11. A Room with a View (1938)
12. Temptation (1940)
13. Streamline (1936)
14. Traffic Jam (1939) #9
15. What Is this Thing Called Love? (1939) #15
16. Yesterdays (1938)
17. You're a Lucky Guy (1939)
18. Alone Together (1939)
19. These Foolish Things (1953)
20. Nightmare (1938) #7

Liner notes for this CD set are good: 12 pages total including:
4 pages giving recording dates, release number, and featured artists
6 pages of history
8 photos (including covers)
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on February 21, 2014
This is one of my favorite big band CD's. Arty Shaw, Benny Goodman, and Glen Miller are my three favorite band leaders, this is my favorite Arty Shaw CD. It contains some of the most romantic music I have ever heard, and the quality of the recordings is wonderful. I highly recommend buying this one!
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on May 25, 2011
I am by no means any expert on the Big band era, it was just "my parent's music" and I loved listening to it as much as they did. I heard some Artie Shaw music at a Baltimore Symphony Orchestra show back in the late winter of 2011 and loved the sound, so I searched for a CD. This really is a treasure! It is a 2-CD set, with a lot of music, well recorded, filled with crooning music, big sound, and major toe tapping. If you are a fan of this era, it is a great investment. May I suggest you get a copy for a parent or grandparent in Assisted Living, or donate it to a Senior Home. Seniors can listen to this and it has the same effect on them as when I listen to my generation's "Woodstock" music sound, it brings back a lot of memories. I do not think you'd be disappointed. Artie Shaw was a rival of Benny Goodman, but maybe not known by as many unless it was your personal generation, was amazing with his clarinet. Enjoy!
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on May 1, 2013
Have just started to listen to my CD of Artie Shaw. The first tune is Begin the Beguine one of my all time favourites. The way he and his orchestra handle this fabulous piece of music NOW THAT IS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT. A couple of more tunes have played now. I must say that I am very pleased I purchased this, you cannot go wrong with his music, if you like the old time artists. By the way I have at least five other renditions of Begin the Beguine, his is the best. Addition to my review, all music has been great, except Indian Love Call, I am sorry to say it was completely trashed, a very poor rendition of one of my favourite tunes. It was too fast and hopped all over the place. I did not like the singer of the song either.
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Many downloading listeners will save a not inconsiderable amount of money but be far less informed than if they passed up this budget collection and instead purchased the recent box set put out by Mosaic records--not only in terms of the extra music but (perhaps above all) the booklet, which is a fount of fact plus a small "novel"'s worth of analysis, remembrances, quotations, insights, photos. Moreover, they will still be unable to hear Artie Shaw's "greatest recording," by his own admission: his 1953 performance on Decca of the standard "My Favorite Things." (Notice that it's not available for download. In fact, it's not even included on the Mosaic box.)

It's a common misunderstanding that Shaw's "essential" work is his music 1935-1945, when he produced hit after hit while marrying wife after wife and forming band after band. Yet before he retired in 1954 (at the age of 44, 50 years before his passing), Shaw continued to develop and play up a storm. Granted, much of the material was not as "beboppish" and "Bird-influenced" as some would claim, but it was often superior to the original "hit" recording of the same song (the superiority of Hank Jones' piano to Johnny Guarniari's harpsichord (!) has to be heard to be fully appreciated. But Shaw quit when he realized that he'd "maxed out" his talents as well as his celebrity appeal, not because his clarinet playing had declined in the least (no doubt he could have stayed even with, if not surpassed, modernists like DeFranco and Tony Scott).

Look for that Decca recording. The cadenza merits comparison with Bird's celebrated 4-bar "Night in Tunisia" break (from the Carnegie Hall concert) and Coltrane's head-spinning cadenza at the end of Billy Eckstine's "I Want to Talk about You" (from "Live at Birdland"). Sometimes the greatest jazz is to be found on unrepeatable moments such as those--we're fortunate to have them on record. The puzzle is why they're not more freely available.
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on April 3, 2013
Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman are the the Swing era of Jazz. "The Essential Artie Shaw" adds to my collection. Great recordings and what a way to swing.My mother will have these 3 musicians for birthday. This is the music I grew up with! Buy the 2 CD set and get to hear great Jazz.
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on June 10, 2014
love Artie Shaw (hey, I'm an old geezer and it's allowed); this was a nice collection unless you're one of those picky people that wonder why such-and-such unknown song wasn't included; buy it and enjoy!
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