Saturdays With Artie Shaw
A five-piece band on the stage. All are dressed in tuxedos. The bass—an upright bass and a jazz drum set. The front man however is not a vocalist. He has a clarinet instead.
The first time I came to listen and fell in love with the music of Artie Shaw was an accident. I was always aware of background scores on films. But then I see a modern era with the 40s music I haven’t heard before. I could tell why it’s called the ‘classics.’
They didn’t age at all.
I bought records of him, as many as I could get my hands on. Then I read encylopædias on Jazz and Rock and Roll and I investigated his associates and thus leading me to similar artists like Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman. And I listened to them all. I picked out my favourites among those many brilliant numbers and I realised that music had the power to control moods.
And I had my Jazz moods which I had never realised before.
Renditions of Begin the Beguine, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and so many more. I can feel I am there listening to them from three billion lights years away. I could see myself entering the giant doorway in Radio City Music Hall and up the staircase and there they were, just like not a second older than they were fifty years ago.
Whenever I sit down to write on Saturday afternoons, for this very column, my heart yearns for the sweet tunes of Artie Shaw, the scores of brilliant swing music that reminds me of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the era when Fitzgerald and Hemingway were alive. And on my beige typewriter, I write away.
P.S. There will be more in this series.