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Artie Shaw: A Multifaceted Artist

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Some of Artie Shaw’s well-developed skills include being a bandleader, jazz clarinetist, composer, and writer. When he was 15 years old, he learned to play the saxophone. He then toured with a band, which was very popular with hits such as “Stardust,” “Frenesi,” and “Begin the Beguine”.

This artist was well-known for innovating in the big band idiom and for using unusual instrumentation. Perhaps, he was the first white leader to hire a full-time black female singer to be part of his band. Due to competition among musicians, it is known that his band was greatly successful to the point that he became a popular rival to the extraordinary clarinetist Benny Goodman.

His life changed suddenly when he was enlisted to the U.S. Navy, wherein he had chance to play for navy personnel. During the time he was in the navy, he thought that he should focus on a writing career, as his subsequent pieces of work, The Trouble With Cinderella and The Education of Albie Snow. Moreover, he also co-wrote the song, “If It’s You” for the movie, The Big Store. Other important achievements were to perform in the film Second Chorus that characterized Shaw and his orchestra playing “Concerto For Clarinet”.

In regards to his personal life, he was self-called “very difficult man” because of his character. Probably, this was the reason why he got married eight times, having as wives actresses like Ava Gardner, Doris Dowling, Lana Turner, and Evelyn Keyes. In 1994, Shaw’s band manuscript collection and library was given to The University of Arizona.

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