A Late Summer Cocktail Party for Artie Shaw
Just the other day I had the yen to listen to some Artie Shaw on his clarinet. Artie Shaw, for those who don’t recognize his name, was one of the most innovative bandleaders during the 1930′s, 40′s and 50′s. He was known professionally as the “grouchy genius.”
For many decades his name was synonymous with avant -garde modern music, jazz, and Big Band. His use of layering and overdubs by using “found” recordings in conjunction with his Big Band sound took place decades before Phil Spector’s invention of “The Wall of Sound.”
One recording in particular was made during WWII with tape recordings layering notable individuals giving their own historic speeches over Artie Shaw’s Big Band music. This technique of layering sounds was perfected years before John Cage played tape loops with his toy piano. Artie saw the world as the bandleader of the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theatre. He worked himself into a state of near exhaustion playing four acts a day, sometimes under fire in war zones. This honed a trait of perfectionism that would follow him throughout his life. During the 1940′s he earned more than $60,000 per week. This was a tidy sum for any day. One can only imagine the parties he threw.
One of his nicknames “El Diablo” went on to name a rich and spicy lobster dish. As a famous bon vivant, Artie Shaw was a leader in more than just music. He may be the most married bandleader of all time – a total of eight times. His brides included movie stars Lana Turner and Ava Gardner – both tempestuous women. With that many ex-wives collecting vast sums of alimony in most cases, it is not surprising that his most famous theme song was “Nightmare!”
When asked why he married so many times, he would always say that his wives had asked, and he said yes. Tales of gunplay and alcohol- fueled liaisons haunted Artie for years. Artie was a perfectionist both professionally and personally. Unfortunately he was never satisfied by anything in life. He was best known for the company he kept including Louis Armstrong, the Dorsey Brothers and Humphrey Bogart. He was investigated in the 1950′s because of his rumored ties with the Soviet Union.
In 1955, Artie Shaw abruptly quit the music business to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a writer. He was quoted at the time as saying that if he kept playing the clarinet, it “would have killed him.” Artie Shaw’s writing was described in 2005 as a “literary cocktail.” The New Yorker wrote this about him: “His story of the metamorphosis of Little Arthur Arshawsky, the son of poor Jewish immigrants, into Artie Shaw, the mercurial bandleader and idol of American youth, is… fascinating…. His dissection of the world of hot music-of what makes a fine jazz musician and a fine jazz band-is as good as anything in print….”
I imagine he lived pretty well by most standards. I’m not sure about his private life, but from what I’ve read of him he was difficult at best. He treated others including his sons very poorly, but as a musician, he certainly was brilliant.
The menu below reflects the mood and life of Artie Shaw.
Cocktails and conversation at the Pierre Hotel terrace on the 30th floor overlooking Central Park to posthumously celebrate Artie Shaw’s 99th birthday.
Iced Russian Vodka Martinis with Beluga Caviar and Blini-chopped egg, onion, sour cream, toast points.
Oysters on the half shell
Lobster a la El Diablo (recipe below)
English Trifle Dessert
Martinis and Manhattans will be served until dawn rises over Central Park.
Lobster a la Diablo
• 3 pounds live lobster
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1/2 stick French sweet butter
• 20 cloves garlic, crushed
• 2 Shallot, diced
• 1 tsp red pepper flakes (much more if desired)
• 2 tsp fresh thyme
• 3/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
• 3 basil leaves, slivered
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 Tbs fresh oregano
• 28 ounce can organic tomatoes
• 1 cup good red wine+ a glass for the cook
• 1/2 tsp sea salt
• 1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
• 1 pound linguine
• Split the lobster’s length wise down the middle. Clean well.
• In a large sauté pan heat the butter in olive oil over medium heat.
• Sauté the onion until golden.
• Add the lobster, meat side down and sauté for 5 minutes
• Turn the lobsters, add the parsley and garlic, and stir well. Cook for another 5 minutes.
• Remove the lobster and set aside a cool place.
• Over the saucepan, crush the tomatoes with your hands (essential) and add to the saucepan. Add the juice from the can and mix well.
• Add remaining ingredients except seafood, and mix well. Simmer 30 minutes.
• Add the lobster back to the saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes.
• Turn off heat and let sit covered for 15 minutes.
• Cook linguine to al dente, just done.
• Toss the pasta with part of the sauce.
• Top with remaining sauce and lobster.
• Serve immediately with freshly grated cheese on the side.
All music available in the public domain at www.archive.org listed under “78′s and wax cylinders.”
Volume: More than the maximum allowed.
• Nightmare “Artie Shaw”
• A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody “Artie Shaw”
• Confessin’ “Django Reinhardt”
• Just a Gigilo “Django Reinhardt”
• A Good Man is Hard To Find “Bix Beiderbeck”
• J’ai Deux Amors “Josephine Baker”
• La Vie en Rose “Josephine Baker”
• Why a Good Man is Hard to Find “Lil Armstrong”
Warren Bobrow is a mixologist, chef, and writer known as the Cocktail Whisperer. In 2010, Bobrow founded “Wild Table” for Wild River Review and serves as the master mixologist for several brands of liquor, including the Busted Barrel rum produced by New Jersey’s first licensed distillery since Prohibition.
Bobrow has published three books on mixology and written articles for Saveur magazine, Voda magazine, Whole Foods-Dark Rye, Distiller, Beverage Media, DrinkupNY and other periodicals. He writes the “On Whiskey” column for Okra Magazine at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and has written restaurant reviews for New Jersey Monthly.
His first book Apothecary Cocktails, was published in September 2013; and immediately went into a second printing. In 2014, he published Whiskey Cocktails. He was born and raised in Morristown, NJ, on a Biodynamic farm.
Warren Bobrow in this Edition
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