A public funeral service for Artie Shaw, who died Dec. 30, 2004 at age 94, was
held Sun., Jan. 9 in the chapel at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park in
Westlake Village, CA. John Mitchell covered the memorial for the Ventura County Star
and details below were contained in his published report.
As part of the ceremony, the director of today's Artie Shaw Orchestra, Dick
Johnson, spoke of his colleague. Johnson stated, "I believe he was the best jazz
clarinetist of all time and one of the very few geniuses I've rubbed elbows with."
Johnson then played I'll Be Seeing You on his own clarinet, in tribute to Shaw, whose
flower-bedecked closed casket was behind him.
Also attending the service was comedian Red Buttons, who joked about Shaw's
marriages. "I asked him why did he marry so many times . . . He said, 'Why not.'"
The gathering roared with laughter. "I met Artie during World War II," Buttons
continued. "We were both in uniform. He was in the Navy and I was a bellhop at the
Astoria Hotel." After a few more laughs, Buttons glanced up and said, "Is God going
to punish me for getting laughs at a memorial?"
"I Did It My Way" could be a song title about Shaw's life, Buttons told the crowd.
"Artie all his days told it like it was, how he saw it, not how you saw it," he said.
Then Buttons looked at the coffin. "In a way I'm shocked to see this public service for
this most private man."
After others spoke, the memorial ended with a recording of Lee Wiley singing
Someone to Watch Over Me, and Shaw was buried at Valley Oaks Memorial Park.
His health had been in decline for several years: he never fully recovered from a
broken leg in 1995, was legally blind, and suffered from adult onset diabetes.
His personal assistant since 1993, Larry Rose, earlier this month told the
Associated Press that Shaw likely died of complications of the disease. "He just
reached a point where he was tired of fighting. He wasn’t able to really enjoy life
anymore," Rose said.
Shaw's attorney and longtime friend Eddie Ezor said that Shaw's caregiver was with
him when he passed away.
Shaw was to receive a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters award in
California on Jan. 7th. "Someone will accept for him," Ezor had told reporters.
According to Ezor, there is to be an Artie Shaw Foundation.
When Shaw's death was first announced, entertainment mogul and former big band
singer Merv Griffin praised Shaw’s musical accomplishments and said his romantic
exploits made him the "Howard Hughes of the clarinet."
Late night king of comedy Johnny Carson grew up listening to big band sounds.
He occasionally played drums for fun, but he made some admirable contributions to
music as host of "The Tonight Show" for 30 years.
Foremost was featuring an all-star big band, "The NBC Orchestra," which
included such stellar instrumentalists as Snooky Young and Conte Candoli on trumpet,
and Al Klink and Walt Levinsky on saxophone. Starting in 1967, the orchestra
was conducted by trumpeter Doc Severinsen.
Also, every now and then Carson invited invited famous bandleaders and singers to
"The Tonight Show." Buddy Rich, for example, was on 57 times (!) between 1970
and 1988. Other guests included Artie Shaw, Desi Arnaz, Louis Bellson, Louis
Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Billy Eckstine, Frank
Sinatra, Cab Calloway, and Joe Williams. Even Lawrence Welk appeared, chatting
with Carson 9 times between 1971 and 1979. On a 1984 program, Carson took the role
of Bob Eberly (as "Johnny Eberly") and sang Tangerine with Helen O'Connell.
Comedian David Letterman, during his own TV show on Jan. 31st, offered a tribute
to Carson, inviting Severinsen, now age 77, and two former members of The NBC
Orchestra, saxophonist Tommy Newsome, 75, and drummer Ed Shaughnessy, 76, to
perform one of Carson's favorite songs, Here's That Rainy Day.
Mort Fega, radio program host, 83, Jan. 21, complications following surgery
Les Robinson, alto saxophonist (Shaw '37-'39, '40-'42), 90, Jan. 6
Consuelo Velazquez, songwriter (Besame Mucho), 84, Jan. 22, complications from
A gathering of members of The Vaughn Monroe Appreciation Society, "Still
Racing with the Moon," is to be held Jan. 21-23 at the Seminole Inn in Indiantown, FL.
"Indeed it is!," Claire Schwartz, Co-Founder and Webmaster of the Society, informs me.
"And, yes, there are still openings. We would love to have you join us if you're
interested." (The event originally was scheduled last October, but had to be postponed
due to severe storms which hit Florida.) Indiantown is 20 miles west of Stuart, FL,
where Monroe made his home during the last part of his life. Planned activities include
viewing of Monroe television performances and movie clips, visiting local Monroe-related
sites, and listening to his music. For more information, contact Ms. Schwartz via
The (Sally Bennett) Big Band Hall of Fame was scheduled to open in its new
home on the South Florida Fairgrounds in West Palm Beach, FL, Jan. 14th. "Because
of our storms, we have had to push back our start date on this project," Elizabeth K.
Speigle, Curator, Yesteryear Village at the South Florida Fair, advises me. "The new
building will be up by early summer. The collections, however, are available for viewing
here on the grounds at Yesteryear Village. Our hours of operation are Tuesday through
Sunday 11-5 excluding special events and holidays." The Fair runs through Jan. 30th.
New CD releases:
Jerry Gray, "The Spirit Is Willing: Classic Big Band Sounds From 1946-1954,"
Sounds of Yesteryear 657
Harry James, "The Complete Marion Morgan with Harry James and His Orchestra:
Sentimental Souvenirs," Collectables 7637; "Spotlight On Harry James," Collectables
8071 [previously issued in 2000 with different artwork as Sony Music Special Products
Vido Musso, "The Swingin'st," Ace 1035 [from Crown]
Jan Savitt, "San Francisco Struttin'," Joyce 1020
various artists, "Columbia Small Group Swing Sessions (1953-1962)," Mosaic
MD8-228 [incl. selected sessions from the Columbia and Epic labels, feat. Buck
Clayton, Illinois Jacquet, Coleman Hawkins with Clark Terry, Ben Webster with
Sweets Edison, and others]
New DVD releases:
Count Basie, "Swinging At His Best," Passport 56004
Cab Calloway, "Swinging At His Best," Passport 56007
Benny Carter, "Jazz Masters," Shanachie
Duke Ellington, "Swinging At His Best," Passport 56005
Lionel Hampton, "Swinging At His Best," Passport 56006; "Lionel Hampton & the
Golden Men of Jazz," Pioneer/Geneon
During the height of the Cold War, big band and jazz music was used as a
propaganda tool against Communism. With the backing of the U.S. State Dept.
beginning in 1956, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and others helped
to spread American ideals around the world with their marvelous talents. In her new
352-page book, Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold
War (New York City: Harvard University Press), author and history professor Penny Von
Eschen recalls the great results of those endeavors. The cover image is a staged
publicity shot, taken during Armstrong's 1965 tour of Egypt, with Louis serenading his
wife, Lucille, in front of the Sphinx. According to Michael Cogswell, Director of the
Louis Armstrong House & Archives in New York, the photo "successfully implies the
intersection of love, time, and music."
DownBeat celebrates its 70th anniversary with a special collectors' edition that, in
part, reproduces archival information and images. Included in the issue, dated Jan.
2005 and now on sale, are Duke Ellington: "Duke Scores with Sacred Music in
Grace Cathedral" by Don DeMichael (originally published Nov. 4, 1965); "Coleman
Hawkins: "The Hawk Talks: Coleman Hawkins Discusses Individuality and Some
Young Musicians" by Nat Hentoff (Nov. 14, 1956); Fletcher Henderson: "Smack!
Memories of Fletcher Henderson" by Rex Stewart (Jun. 3, 1965); Woody Herman:
"'New Music's Swell, But We Can't All Be Geniuses,'" by Ned Williams (Jun. 17, 1946);
Stan Kenton: "The Restless Searcher" by Ralph Gleason (Apr. 28, 1960); and Artie
Shaw: "Artie Shaw Salutes," a letter to the editor praising Duke Ellington (Dec. 3,
1952). Happy anniversary, DownBeat!
Also in the magazine is a compact disc review, "CDs We Missed: Bluebird Bonus,"
by John McDonough, on page 70.
Crosby, Johanna. "In the mood for swing: The great originators have died, but
the jazz genre lives on," Cape Cod Times / capecodonline.com, Jan. 17, 2005.
This month's itinerary - select list:
Count Basie Orchestra directed by Bill Hughes: Jan. 29, Midland Center for the
Arts, Midland, MI
Tex Beneke Orchestra directed by Jim Snodgrass: Jan. 26, McCallum Theatre,
Palm Desert, CA; Jan. 27, East County Performing Arts Center, El Cajon, CA;
Jan. 29, La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, La Mirada, CA; Jan. 30, Civic
Arts Plaza, Thousand Oaks, CA
Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra directed by Bill Tole: Jan. 16, Poway, CA
Larry Elgart: Jan. 11, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Sarasota, FL
Woody Herman Orchestra directed by Frank Tiberi: Jan. 23, Philharmonic Center
for the Arts, Naples, FL
Sammy Kaye Orchestra directed by Roger Thorpe: Jan. 2-7, Mississippi Queen
riverboat cruise, New Orleans to Baton Rouge, LA; Jan. 25, Manatee Fair, Manatee,
Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Larry O'Brien: Jan. 12, Broward Center-Amaturo
Theatre, Fort Lauderdale, FL; Jan. 13, Kravis Center, West Palm Beach, FL; Jan. 19,
Newberry Opera House, Newberry, SC; Jan. 22, Grove Park Inn & Resort, Asheville,
NC; Jan. 26, National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola, FL; Jan. 29, The Lucas
Theatre, Savannah, GA
Russ Morgan Orchestra directed by Jack Morgan: Jan. 7-13, Mississippi Queen
riverboat cruise, Baton Rouge, LA to Vicksburg, MS; Jan. 14, American Legion,
BBC Radio2 presents the first portion of "The Billy May Story" at 9:30 pm
(London time), Jan. 4th. Five more parts will be aired in the future.
For his distinguished career, Skitch Henderson is to receive the James Smithson
Bicentennial Medal from the Smithsonian Institution at a ceremony in Washington, DC
on Jan. 29th. The program will include a performance by the Tommy Dorsey
Orchestra, with Henderson as guest pianist.
A suite honoring Count Basie, composed by Bob Florence and commissioned
jointly by ASCAP and the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE), was
expected to be premiered at the annual IAJE convention, Long Beach, CA, Jan. 6th.
The new Buddy Rich line of drums, made by Drum Workshop (DW) Drums,
is to be introduced at the National Association of Music Manufacturers (NAMM) show,
which runs Jan. 20-23 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA.
Also, his daughter, Cathy Rich, says that a Buddy Rich Memorial Concert is in the
works, to be held at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, in association with DW Drums.
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