Artie Shaw: Frenesi




Artie Shaw (clarinet)


The Essential Artie Shaw (RVG Legacy Reissue 69239)

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Artie Shaw (clarinet),

Mannie Klein, Charlie Margulis, George Thow (trumpet); Babe Bowman, Randall Miller, Bill Rank (trombone); John Cave (French horn), Mort Ruderman (flute), Phil Nemoli (oboe), Joe Krechter (bass clarinet), Blake Reynolds, Bud Carlton (alto sax); Jack Stacey, Dick Clark (tenor sax); Stan Wrightsman (piano), Bobby Sherwood (guitar), Jud DeNaut (bass), Carl Maus (drums), and a 13-piece string section,


Recorded: Hollywood, CA, March 3, 1940


Rating: 84/100 (learn more)

After one of his intermittent, annoyingly short-lived retirements, Garboesque bandleader Artie Shaw returned from a Mexican vacaciones frenéticas to record "Frenesi" (Spanish for frenzy). It's a lovely tune, attractively arranged and well performed, but it makes us wonder just where in Mexico Señor Shaw ensconced. With flute, oboe, French horn and strings, "Frenesi" sounds more palacio presidencial than barrio cantina. Artie's concept of local color seems mighty elitist for an immigrant dressmakers' son born on Manhattan's Lower East Side who professed to hate the trappings of celebrity. "Frenesi" is fine for ballroom dancing, but it's cornier than a maize tortilla.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz

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  • 1 Not an old timer // Mar 21, 2009 at 02:11 AM
    Wow. What a review. I wonder if the folks back in the 40s really gave much thought to the congruency between the socio-economics of the composer and how the melody struck their ear. In one measurement, it held the #1 spot for number of weeks. In another, the song is unbecoming and inconsistent with the composer's background. Can you imagine someone who was 30 years old in the early forties coming back and reading this review? They'd think they were on some alien planet. This is just another symptom of how bad and screwed up the American mind has become. BTW- I'm no old timer. I'm in my 40s and appreciate the music of this era. Some of it is corny I think. But I've never labeled it so for the reasons you cite. This is rich.