Artic Shaw was injured late today at Acapulco, Mexico while rescuing a drowning American woman. Miss Anne Chapman of Greenwich Connecticut was being carried out by the strong undertow when Shaw swam out to bring her in. Just before reaching shore he was dashed against some rocks, severely injuring his knees. Shaw was taken to Mexico City for treatment and will be flown to Los Angeles for further examination.
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Last week there appeared in this column a few paragraphs which might well be entitled "How to Get Stuck Up the Well-Known Creek Without a Paddle." Subject under discussion was a new Benny Goodman record, which I felt and still feel to be the best swing he has ever done. Record was described at great length, mentioning all the solos and going into ecstatic rhapsodies about the ensemblework. The only trouble was than I just plain forgot to say what the name of the record was.
The proof reader tried to save my hide by putting in..."(the name escapes me at the moment)"...but it was a boner and to all of you that called and wrote in, my humblest apologies. Incidentally, the name of the thing was "Honeysuckle Rose"--as arranged by Fletcher Henderson.
Things are certainly swingteresting this month in old Beantown. Bunny Berigan opens Monday at the Marionette Room of the Hotel Brunswick with his full band and Kay Doyle as vocalist, and Duke Ellington is at the Southland. Berigan's trumpet playing is always worth hearing, and this band is supposed to be pretty good.
As far as this Ellington man goes, there is little this reviewer can say. His band was the only one that Gramaphone Shop listed of the jazz bands in its record catalogue. Ask any musician who has the best band, and he'll say, "Joe X--and of course, Duke."
He is so sophisticated in his ideas and arrangements that there is a saying in the trade that he is playing now what everybody else will do ten years from now. He did it ten years ago--why not again?
The point is that he has the greatest band of swing soloists in the business. And playing together, they achieve effects that Mr. Strawinsky could well afford to copy. I have yet to meet the classical musician who, once having heard the Duke, isn't crazy about him.
And take a look at the men in his band: Rex Stewart on trumpet is considered one of the greatest--Goodman copied his "Boy Meets Horn." Cootie Williams (trumpet) is the only guy I've ever heard who could really do things with a mute. "Echoes of Harlem" is a good example. Juan Tizol is probably one of the most unusual trombone men in the world. His solos, done on valve trombone, on such things as "Pyramid" are classics. Lawrence Brown and Joe Naughton are both great. Listen to the former's "Rose of the Rio Grande." The sax section is equal if not greater. Harry Carney on baritone sax has such an amazing technique that Duke very often doesn't score parts for him--just lets him ramble at will. Listen to "Azure" for some ramblings what am. Barney Bigard (clarinet) and Johnny Hodges (alto) are two more of jazz's greats. They have done hundreds of swell solos on all sorts of Ellington records.
This is an amazing band. It builds harmonies and ideas that other bands never get near. Often the band will Improvise collectively in this same weird timbre--whereas most people think that their complicated style takes months of rehearsal on each thing. I could ramble on for pages about this bunch. Suffice it to say that practically every critic thinks they are the biggest and most important thing in jazz, and get ye down to the Southland to hear them. By the way, the Duke will be at Briggs and Briggs this afternoon at three thirty. Drop over and meet him--it's worth it.
Haven't done much record coverage lately, so here goes: Benny Goodman (Columbia)--"Boy Meets Horn," the best of his recent efforts save for above mentioned "Honeysuckle" and a carbon copy of Rex Stewart's (trumpet) solo effort with Duke Ellington. Still another example of how Benny is forsaking nerve-racking power house for honest-to-goodness swing. "Memories of You" by the Sextet is equally good....Tommy Dorsey, having won the Downbeat Sweet poll, is beginning to play more good swing than he ever has before. "Easy Does It" is a worthy successor to the platter of "Stomp It Off" that Tommy did several months ago. An original by former Luncefordite Sy Oliver, it swings easily and tastefully....Jimmy Dorsey has always been a favorite of mine both because of the fact that personally he and the people working for him are a swell gang, and because they play fine dance music and better swing.
Artle Shaw hasn't been recording lately....Count Basie's output lately hasn't been too good, his latest release (Decca) of "Jive at Five" being pretty uninteresting....Duke Ellington is doing so many good things that it is virtually Impossible to stay up with him. Especially recommended are "Tootin' Thru The Roof" with an amazing duet by trumpeter Rex Stewart and trombonist Lawrence Brown, "Little Posey," a driving ensemble disc, and "Blues," a duet with Duke on plano and his new bass find, Jimmy Blanton. Maybe Ellington doesn't have the polished technique ideas of some of the boys, but he has ideas--lots of them--and good ones....
Krupa can ride for a long time on his copy of Ellington's "Hodge Podge." It's a magnificent record....Eddle Duchin (Columbia) has recorded his theme, the Chopin "Nocturne" and strangely enough, it makes quite an acceptable record....Jan Savitt's been turning out pop tunes, but they're excellent renditions and been watching. Total output of Woody Herman, Charlie Barnet, and Harry James has been nil lately, mainly due to overplaying. Woody has one coming out this week called "Blues On Parade" that ought to be pretty good, however....
Earl Hines has a good one in "Riff Medley" due to the short but swell plano solo. Look out for this week's Victor release of his "Rosetta" as a piano....On the same disc is a solo that he cut ten years ago for Victor that was never released. Ought to be worth listening to....Jimmy Lunceford's stuff has suffered lately from bad recording, his platter of "Liza" being a good example....
Johnny Kirby's "Blue Skies" and "Royal Garden Blues" is the finest example of small group ensemble playing I've heard....Muggay Spanier supposedly disbanded his little Dixteland band because of financial trouble to go back to Ted Weems. But the latest story is that he stayed with Weems till the end of the week and then went back to New York to round up his band.
I hope this is true because his records constitute some of the finest Dixie style done in the last four years. Listen to "Livery Stable Blues" and "I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate" for solid rhythm, good ensemble, and exceptional solos.