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RCA/Bluebird to Release Artie Shaw Box Set

Most great jazz artists have to wait until they are dead to have their music collected in a lavishly packaged, thoroughly annotated boxed set. Artie Shaw, however, is not only a great jazz artist but is also hale and hearty at 91, and he was able to exercise enough control over RCA/Bluebird’s new tribute to his music-making that he calls it Artie Shaw: Self Portrait.

Shaw selected the performances on the set’s five discs from various sources: early recordings for Brunswick and Bluebird, later RCA Victor sides, MusicCraft records, and “live” air checks from Shaw’s personal collection. Shaw also wrote a long essay on his career and musical philosophy for the set.

“Too many ‘Best-of-Artie-Shaw’ compilations,” Shaw writes, “have included stuff I never did much care for, pop material I’d been pressured or coerced into recording. I never had much respect for most pop tunes, and none of that material is here. But I used my own judgment when it came to recording music I liked, mostly standards-and occasionally a new tune that sounded as though it might eventually become a standard.

“I’ve chosen only those performances that come reasonably close to what I had in mind when I did them-which is also why this package includes examples from all my different bands. Let’s call it a summing-up, a retrospective of what I consider my best work regardless of label, an overview of my entire career as a clarinetist-bandleader.”

To complement Shaw’s labors, RCA/Bluebird will also include additional liner notes from Richard Sudhalter, producer’s notes by Orrin Keepnews, and pages upon pages of archival photographs.

Artie Shaw: Self Portrait will be available in record stores Oct. 9.

Originally Published