Friday, November 8, 2013

Artie Shaw's Smithsonian Interview

Public Service Announcement:

There's a great interview with Artie Shaw available on the Smithsonian Jazz site here.

Shaw's thoughts are expressed in his trademark dogmatic edginess, discussing jazz history and his place in it. Some quotes to whet your appetite:


No classical player worth his salt, that I know of, can play jazz.

I’m the only world-class clarinet player who started on saxophone.

What do we mean by the best? It’s not a pole vault, where you can measure. Who’s better? I don’t know who’s better. Who do you like better? And what causes your likes and prejudices? Why do some people like Coltrane and others like, like I do, Lester? I think Lester was the prototypical
tenor player. I don’t think anybody’s gone past him. I think he invented the tenor, he and
Coleman [Hawkins]. Just as Benny and I invented the clarinet, the jazz clarinet. I don’t
care who they talk about that came ahead of that. It’s not significant. There it is.  


Music isn’t . . . It’s not rote. You don’t plan it out. What you think about is psychology.
Get the audience’s nerves jangling, and then smooth it out. It’s psychology through the
medium of notes.


[Tip of the hat to one of The Jazz Clarinet's readers, Frank Jellison, for letting me know about this].

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