Lydia’s Uncle Jack was a great man, a true gentleman, a soldier in the big one, a loving father, and a real jazz fan. He lived in NYC in the 30s and 40s and saw all the greats. He had a huge record collection and all them are still in perfect condition. When Jack passed away, Lydia’s aunt Bobbie gave us some of the records. Lydia was pregnant with Cormac and we had just moved in to our new home in Prospect Heights.
One of the LPs is a compilation of Artie Shaw records. We listened to this OVER and OVER. Mr. Shaw is surely one of the greatest musicians to ever grace this plane. His clarinet playing cannot be beat. His genius co-arrangement and performance of Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine” is an everlasting gift to Homo Sapiens everywhere (and the record company geniuses made it a B-side!). His bands were fantastic - he could swing with the best of them, but he was always looking to do something new - like arrangements with strings and the harpischord (check out the Gramercy Five stuff for that incredible sound.) The guy’s personal life was something else - he was married to Ava Gardner and Lana Turner, among six others! A biography by Tim Nolan, Three Chords for Beaty’s Sake: The Life of Artie Shaw was recently published.
Well, how about that? Yesterday, May 23rd, was the 100th anniversary of his birth! Happy Birthday, Sir!
He was a self-described “very difficult man” but I’m not family, friend, or band member so the only first-hand knowledge I have is of his beautiful music.
His version of the Gershwins’ “The Man I Love” is beyond words; most assuredly it can’t be beat.
Be patient with the video, it takes about 30 seconds for the needle to drop on this 78.