Biography of clarinetist and bandleader Artie Shaw, one of the principal figures of the big band/jazz era of the late 1930s and 1940s. He discusses his constant need to seek new challenges, which led to numerous retirements and career changes including his foray into writing, which had long been his primary intention. He speaks about his difficulty in reconciling his fans' popular expectations with his personal, more esoteric musical ambitions. His many years of retreat from public life are also discussed, as well as his notorious series of unsuccessful marriages. Written by
After the film won the Academy Award, Artie Shaw sued Brigitte Berman in Canadian court, claiming ownership of the film (which he liked). When he eventually lost his case both in the initial trial and on appeal, he restarted the suit in California courts. The legal difficulties prevented the film's release between 1987 and Shaw's death in 2004. See more »
According to my memory, Artie Shaw was pleased to give Ms. Berman a break when accepting to build with her a two-hours rendition of his long life but regretfully short carrier (he hanged up his clarinet in 1954, and I missed his New Year appearance at the Toronto Colonial Tavern). I know a jazz fan from Ottawa who spends frequently winter vacations in former Shaw's property at Begur, Spain. The pity with Artie Shaw is that he always wanted to be an intellectual, as he puts it in THE TROUBLE WITH Cinderella: while playing with his band in a crowded dancing auditorium, with dancers disturbing him to the point of almost swallowing his instrument, one of them fell into the orchestra pit and Artie Shaw quipped: "there goes another Booth, John Wilkes Booth!"!not realizing that in the audience, there were hardly two couples who realized that he was referring to Lincoln's assassin, who also fell in the orchestra pit while trying to escape from the fatal theater. After his death, I wrote an obituary in a French magazine, from which I am copying the end: " The souvenir of Artie Shaw, uncrowned king of the clarinet, is still remaining among all the generations of his long life (94 years),thanks to his immortal success (spelled by him $ucce$$):Begin the Beguine,Frenesi and Lady Be Good, described by an Italian jazz critic "here we are breathing pure Basian atmosphere, with full lungs". Harry Carasso, Paris, France
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