In the Blue Room/In the Café Rouge

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Artie Shaw
LABELS: RCA Victor/BMG
PERFORMER: Artie Shaw and his Orchestra, including: Shaw (dir, cl); Bernie Privin (t); Les Robinson (as); Tony Pastor (ts, v); Georgie Auld (ts); Buddy Rich (d); Helen Forrest (v)
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 18527 2

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Frequently, live recordings provide jazz’s most vivid life studies. Here, Artie Shaw’s big band is caught at its peak, just as ‘Begin the Beguine’ was putting him on the map with sales of over one million. These recordings, taken from live broadcasts over an NBC wire from the Blue Room of the Hotel Lincoln in 1938 and the Café Rouge of the Hotel Pennsylvania in 1939, are classics of the Swing Era. Shaw, one of the finest clarinettists in jazz, plays with a flair and imagination that was somehow never quite captured in the recording studio.

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Indeed,the whole band plays with an out-of-school feel that frequently transcends the mechanical and reaches for the inspirational, with a youthful Buddy Rich the band’s sparking plug – listen how he exhorts the band on to greater deeds on ‘The Carioca’. With a recording quality that is really quite astonishing, these discs are an indispensable representation of the Big Band era of the Thirties and Forties and certainly belong in the collection of anyone with an interest in 20th-century music. Stuart Nicholson