Shaw, Artie, 1910–2004, American clarinetist and bandleader, b. New York City as Arthur Jacob Arshawsky. He began playing professionally as a teenager, becoming a studio musician in New York after 1929. In 1935 he formed his first band, an unusual grouping that included clarinet, string quartet, and rhythm section, which he used in a critically acclaimed performance of his jazz chamber piece Interlude in B Flat. A year later he established a more orthodox swing band, and with it recorded (1938) his first hit, a sweetly swinging version of Cole Porter's
Begin the Beguinethat quickly became a jazz classic. In 1940 he organized a smaller band, the Gramercy Five, which he reformed several times with various combinations of musicians, and from the mid-1940s to the mid-50s he led a number of big bands. Considered one of swing's two great clarinetists (the other, his rival Benny Goodman), Shaw was a virtuoso at his instrument. Among his greatest hits were early 40s recordings of
Dancing in the Dark.He retired from music in 1954.
See his autobiography (1952, repr. 1992); biographies by V. Simosko (2000), J. White (2004), and T. Nolan (2010); B. Berman, dir., Artie Shaw: Time Is All You've Got (documentary film, 1985; Academy Award).
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