Classic Artie Shaw Bluebird And Victor Sessions (#244)

Mosaic Records Limited Edition Box Set


Classic Artie Shaw Bluebird And Victor Sessions (#244)
When Franklin Cohen, the principal clarinetist of the Cleveland Orchestra, was to be featured playing Mr. Shaw's Concerto for Clarinet, he listened to Mr. Shaw's recording of the work and said he found his playing unbelievable.
"Shaw is the greatest player I ever heard," he said. "It's hard to play the way he plays. He makes so many incredible shadings."

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Limited Edition: 5000 copies

7 CDs -  $119.00


"Begin The Beguine" "Frenesi" "Stardust
They Are Landmarks In Jazz

When band leader Artie Shaw put down his clarinet in 1954 - vowing never to play again - he made a "forever" decision most of us could never contemplate. He had been the #1 bandleader in the world. He had recorded countless tunes that were considered then, and will be thought of always, as classics. Along with one or two other names, none ranked higher as an innovator on his instrument. Add to that his matinee idol, dashing good looks that made him admired across the globe. Give all that up?

Yet, before he did, Shaw created a body of work that few artists will ever achieve. And the best of that music is finally available in a massive Mosaic volume. This limited edition collection presents all the recordings that focused on instrumentals by his big band, the Gramercy 5 and representative vocal performances by Tony Pastor, Billie Holiday, Hot Lips Page and Lena Horne.

Read any evaluation of Shaw's work, and so often a song title will be followed by the phrase "which became a classic." Those classics are all here. From early recordings as a bandleader, which almost instantaneously established him as a star, to his underappreciated post-War recordings, Mosaic's collection presents all his most famous performances, and many previously-unheard alternates.

f you are unfamiliar with Shaw's work, prepare to be surprised. While so many other lauded artists of the swing era sound land-locked by the idiom, Shaw's music remains eminently listenable to modern ears.

Artie Shaw Like You've Never Heard - Superior Audio Restoration

Artie Shaw's tone soared ethereally, and his song sense bordered on perfection. Witness Shaw's half-chorus in his 1940 recording of "Stardust." The entire recording, from top to bottom, is like something from another world. Billy Butterfield's trumpet lead-in couldn't be more gorgeously bell-like, and trombonist Jack Jenney finishes Shaw's chorus on some kind of cloud. There isn't one note out of place, and you'd be hard pressed to find a more perfect recording.

Barney Bigard, a staple of the Ellington band from 1927-1942 stated that Shaw made "…the clarinet sound unusually beautiful in the upper register. The guy could execute like mad…(and) I like Artie for the things that were almost impossible to do on the clarinet." His solo efforts were clean, clear and soaring with a strong and polished attack that was full of melodic invention. A weaving of ideas that perfectly connected one thought to another.

Our set includes over 150 tracks on 7 CDs, and presents for the first time anywhere 12 unissued performances. To offer the finest sound possible, we've located the original metal parts and pristine vinyl test pressings from the Victor and Bluebird vault. Our lavish booklet includes an appreciation and session analysis by John McDonough and features many rare photographs of Shaw and his bandmates. Don't miss out on owning this important collection.

Read More About Artie Shaw:
Track Listing, Personnel & Recording Dates »

  • Booklet
  • Audio Quality
  • Photography
  • Sample Session Notes
Our liner notes for the Artie Shaw Bluebird and Victor recordings, come from one of the highly respected writers and critics in jazz, John McDonough. His credits include writing for the Wall Street Journal and for many years, Down Beat. John knew Artie Shaw well and his insights into the Shaw psyche as well as the superlative clarinet that Shaw played are well reviewed in this seven disc set.

A real treat is working with original metal parts and test pressings from the Victor vaults. Throughout the years, these sources have been kept in impeccable condition and there usually are at least a half dozen to choose from. Because of this we were able to locate all the original masters and alternates in pristine sound via these metal parts and vinyl test pressings. Only one track was used from a commercially issued 78. Our engineer for the entire project, Andreas Meyer, has brought out Shaw and all his fabulous orchestras in the best sound we’ve ever heard.

Photo Copyright © Protected
Artie Shaw
The bulk of our images have come from the Institute of Jazz Studies as well as Frank Driggs some of which show Shaw and the band in the Victor studios. There are also some rare unpublished photos from Shaw devotee and collector Reinhard Scheer-Hennings. All these photos include great scenes of Shaw’s Navy band, his first great band with images of Buddy Rich and Georgie Auld and the later bands with Hot Lips Page, Davey Tough and Roy Eldridge.

September 27, 1938 Session

One of the more interesting templates of Shaw’s inner voice was his theme, “Nightmare”, a minor blues played in the manner of a funeral dirge. Something of a film noir acid trip, it’s full of lurid menace and stalking shadows. Yet, it’s also the perfect card to play when asked to illustrate what made Shaw different from Goodman on the clarinet. Shaw’s emotional power was in his sound, which is laid bare here in long, lingering swaths of sound – dark and brooding at the bottom, brittle and dense at the top, where he ruled with a piercing but never shrill precision. For Goodman, the high note was essentially a cathartic one-shot target. Shaw turned them into narratives. He never growled or smoldered. His lines were imperial and statuesque. His vibrato was always cool and hard, the perfect voice for his tart little clusters and often eccentric flourishes. His other composition, “Non-Stop Llight”, reveals a brighter, more sunny side, but similar factors control his playing, even at bright tempos. The long and serpentine paths of his lines are to some extent a calculated illusion. He had a way of seeming to duck out of sight and then reemerge, implying that the notes continued even when they couldn’t be heard, like a short wave radio signal that fades for second and then comes back even as the words continued. – John McDonough


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  Excellent Set
Wonderful instrumental music. The set is all the stronger for omitting so many of the vocal numbers. Most of the vocals were hideous regardless of the singer.
  a fine set nevertheless
I'll be waiting for the explanation as to why a vocal by Lena Horne or Tony Pastor is any more "jazz" than one by Helen Forrest. Even Billie Holiday was in pop song / band singer mode on "Any Old Time". A fine set nevertheless.
  Great set without vocals.
This is a great set. Judging from some of the other reviews, perhaps Mosaic needs to start another department. The current one can be for jazz fans, the other one for pop vocal fans.
  How 'bout
How about a Helen Forrest and Goodman Orch/Band Select? Or a Goodman & his vocalists Select?
  Learn from the mistake
Leaving out the vocals of both the Shaw and Goodman Mosaic swing releases was a mistake. Purists, like me, resent editing. What happened to the "Complete Recordings" concept.?
  all of the tracks
how coulde ANYONE have such bad taste that he decided to take away Helen Forrest vocals ????????? I have EVERYTHING that band recorded and this is a most important part of the tunes in my opinion the set become destroyed that way of editing otherwise Shaws 1938-39 had a quality never reached in Any Other Band in the Big Band Business ought to be 10 notes!!!!
  The Enchanted Forrest
Artie Shaw himself gave the greatest compliment he ever gave another artsit regarding Helen Forrest: "She never got the credit she deserved". If you know anything about Artie Shaw...any "definitive" compilation of his work that does not include at least ONE sample of her immeasureable contribution to his legacy----is worthless!
  Beautiful except for lack of Helen Forrest vocals!
Firstly, I have to admit that this set is the cleanest, clearest reproduction of Artie Shaw's Victor recordings. But I'm lost as to why Helen forrest vocals weren't included. There is a stamp of the jazz fraternity's dislike of vocals on recorded performances, yet Tony Pastor's vocals are included. Why? Is it politically incorrect to include a certain type of vocalist? Don't you realize that all of Artie Shaw's Victor recordings should be preserved? Mr. Shaw conducted a dance band, after all. i'm one, born in 1946, who learned about Artie shaw from my Dad, who told me how the vocalists added to the pleasure of the Swing Bands. Mosaic could have added two more CDs and given us the Complete Artie Shaw on Victor. As one other reviewer commented, he would have to keep his old reissues for Helen Forrest vocals. I'll do the same! Otherwise, this is a great set.
I honestly feel the sound on this set is great- another wonderful job by Mosaic. I agree it would have been nice, as since other vocalists are featured on some of the titles, that some Helen Forrest sides were also included. As an added note, I find that Mosaic's set compliments the Shaw "Self Portrait" set. Finally, as with all Mosaic sets, you can never go wrong with Mosaic's informative booklet
  Great notes, music and alternate takes
First off, I LOVE Artie Shaw. So matter what he does, I always find it fascinating. The liner notes are so fascinating, that you will come away with the impression that it was nothing short of a miracle that he stayed in music for as long as he did. Shaw is always bored and constantly trying to find something new to say in music. You can clearly tell he hated the music business. It gives you a better understanding of the frustrations felt by both RCA and Shaw. For me, the remastering is great. I was always tired of hearing mediocre sound for Artie's reissues. Not the case here. I know people are complaining that they should have just made it a complete RCA recordings set. That would have been nice, but lets face it, a LOT of Artie's vocal recordings are just mediocre. Helen Forrest was fine, but if I never hear her, then I'm okay with that. Plus, the majority of Artie's hits were instrumental anyway. That's why in his box set Self Portrait, he didn't include much vocals. So if you love great music and love Shaw, it's a no brainer. Grab it and enjoy the genius of Shaw.
  Superb Sound
The whole middle to lower end of the Shaw band is bowling me over as well as the lack of the poor micro editing that those BlueBird LPs did. Hearing BTBeguine without the teeny weeny little jumps of rhythm almost made me drive off the road in Palo Alto the other night. BRAVO!
  Great liner notes, great music - some audio restoration issues
I opened the boxed set, began reading the booklet - and couldn't stop. John McDonough's liner notes are worth the price of the package. They provide a balanced and objective view of Artie both as person and musician. McDonough also doesn't feel the need to artificially elevate Shaw's already masterful body of work by taking irrelevant potshots at clarinet arch-rival Benny Goodman. This is in itself a refreshing change of critical pace. However, I *am* troubled by the audio restoration in several spots. It seems that the fear of surface noise or "blasting" that marred the recent Louis Armstrong Decca set has returned with a vengeance. As a result, the treble is sometimes muffled (which seriously detracts from "Traffic Jam" and other titles in the crisply recorded series of 1938-39 Bluebirds). In other instances, the bass and lower-midrange content seems to be sacrificed, perhaps in an attempt to minimize rumble ("Oh, Lady Be Good"). Many of these sides can be heard in better-fidelity restorations on Sony-BMG's "Essential Artie Shaw" 2-CD set (sorry). I hope Mosaic's recent hypersensitivity to surface noise - which is now down to "trace" levels thanks to modern technology - will soon be a thing of the past. Finally: it seems inconsistent to program Lena Horne's early and (comparatively) tentative vocals while totally overlooking Helen Forrest's vastly more significant contributions to the Shaw legacy. As noted in Scott Wenzel's footnote, Forrest was one of the very finest band singers ever, arguably doing much of her best work with Artie.
  Thrilled to have Artie's RCA sides---some reservations
First of all thanks to Mosaic for even taking the time to release this vintage material. From the Lester Young/Basie set, to Chu Berry, to the recent Armstrong release, to Benny Goodman's Columbia work, and now Artie Shaw, Mosaic is doing a great service to those of us who enjoy genuine Swing Era jazz releases. I totally agree with the reviewer who gave accolades to Mr. McDonough for the outstanding writing of the Shaw booklet. I found myself devouring it. The objective approach used by the author is not just informative, but refreshing and engaging. The liner notes are worthy of an award; this is perhaps Mosaic's best booklet to date (and I have well over 2 dozen Mosaic sets). Now to my reservations . . .this set suffers from the same sonic problems as the recent Armstrong release. Namely, the sound restorer seems to suffer from the need to eliminate all shellac era noise, so he essentially gives us a clean midrange, cutting off much of the higher frequency musical information in order to avoid any semblance of surface hiss, and he compounds the problem by choking off the low frequencies, presumably to avoid turntable rumble. Unfortunately, the brightness and bite of many of these fine arrangements / recordings is watered down by equalizing the high end down to a minimum, and the fine bass and bass drum work of Jud DeNaut and Buddy Rich and Cliff Leeman is further muted (beyond the limitations imposed by early technology) meaning I have to work just to hear the resonance of the bass notes. I know Mosaic can do better. Just listen to the Mildred Bailey, Joe Venuti, and Bix sets to hear just how well material from this era can be restored. Also, the BMG release the Essential Artie Shaw boasts better sound restoration. Usually Mosaic's sound exceeds that of the standard label issues. Am I glad I have this set? You bet. Do I know Mosaic can do even better with respect to sound. Absolutely!
Congratulations on a really stunning job. The transfers are a window into the original sessions--they really put you there. RCA did some excellent work with their recent box set, but these are even quieter and fuller. An extra plus is that the Grammercy Five sessions *finally* sound the way they should, rectifying the horrible botch job RCA released almost two decades ago. I have long wished for a set like this and now here it is. Thanks a million.
  Pop tunes are part of the legacy - Why omit?
To omit "pop tunes" from this collection is to deny Artie Shaw's legacy. I thought that Mosaic did not make value judgments, but rather rescued lost music. Popular music was integral to the "Swing Era," and many present-day listeners appreciate it. I'm hoping that you will release all songs with Tony Pator, Helen Forrest, and the other vocalists who are part of the Artie Shaw legacy. Thanks so much.
  Helen Forrest
how about a Mosaic Select set of the Helen Forrest sides not included in the Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman boxes ??
I'm hoping the transfers in this set are as clean and wonderful as the transfers done for the Benny Goodman Columbia set. I don't know if I'm losing my hearing, but it seems to me as the 1930's progressed the quality of Victor recordings decreased, and the reincarnated Columbia label improved. If Mosaic can coax another transfer out of the original metal parts for "Begin the Beguine," they've earned their money. RCA/Bluebird had to use a live version in the last Shaw release. As to whether or not the vocals should be included...I love Helen Forrest, but Artie Shaw himself on numerous occasions disparaged the vocals as a necessary evil. Goodman had no lost love for vocals either. I think we're going to be happy with this release.
  Waiting the 7cd set Artie Shaw
Dear SIRS, regarding this coming soon release, may be a mistake to erase the so called pop tunes or Tin Pan Alley sung by Helen Forrest or even the other singers featured by the AS orchestras. In fact not so seldom several solos performed by the leader are deleted and many of them of sure melodic and armonic interest. I'm among those who wouldn't coplain to add some money in obtaining 3 or 4 cds more, particularly now only imaging the achievemnts of yuor restoration.
  A great decision
All the stars in the world for Artie Shaw! What a great and thoughtfull decision NOT to include any vocal tracks in this set. Too many complete works of Mr. Shaw have been spoiled because of this. The brilliant clarinet playing of Artie Shaw is the highlight here and not the singers that were mainly hired to make the band accessable for the mainstream crowd anyway.
  You made a huge mistake!
Your decision not to make this complete by eliminating the vocals is truly mystifying. Helen Forrest's contrbution to Shaw's band was indispensible. Her vocal on the second version of Any Old Time is EQUAL to Billie Holiday's. I am also saddened that Don't Fall Asleep is missing. I strongly urge you- I beg you!- to NOT release this until you go back and replace the missing gems.

Classic Artie Shaw Bluebird And Victor Sessions (#244)
Classic Artie Shaw Bluebird And Victor Sessions (#244)
Limited Edition: 5000 copies
7 CDs - $119.00

Customer Reviews:

"First of all thanks to Mosaic for even taking the time to release this vintage material. From the Lester Young/Basie set, to Chu Berry, to the recent Armstrong release, to Benny Goodman's Columbia work, and now Artie Shaw, Mosaic is doing a great service to those of us who enjoy genuine Swing Era jazz releases. I totally agree with the reviewer who gave accolades to Mr. McDonough for the outstanding writing of the Shaw booklet. I found myself devouring it."
Read More Reviews »

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