Musicians of all stripes have been rallying to support the victims of the September 11 terrorist attack on America in the way they know best -- by performing from the heart.
Rock icons shook the house with a Madison Square Garden telethon to help victims and honor heroes, and packed RFK Stadium in the nation's capital, while country stars sang in Nashville to support relief efforts last weekend.
For some viewers, it may have awakened images of 60 years ago this December when America began fighting a more widespread war against enemies that were more of a known quantity and weapons that were conventional.
World War II walloped into the Swing Era, when big band jazz was the musical heavyweight in America -- topping the charts before rock music was a twinkle in anyone's eye.
And the big band leaders and players did their part by disbanding, enlisting and forming military service bands to entertain the troops near hellish battle zones in Europe and the Pacific.
Clarinetist Artie Shaw remembers it well in an essay accompanying "Artie Shaw: Self Portrait," released this week by RCA Victor's Bluebird label.
This boxed set was personally selected by Shaw, who at 91 is the last living icon of the Swing Era. It includes every band from every phase of his 18-year career, which ended in 1954, when he tired of the road and the pressures of leading a band.
There is a three-year gap from January 1942 to November 1944, when a different sort of duty called Shaw and other bandleaders away from the studios and America's bandstands.
Within weeks after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, Shaw disbanded his unit. And in April 1942, he enlisted in the Navy, went through basic training and served a few months on a minesweeper before being given permission to form a service band.
The best-known units of that sort, led by the likes of Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey, headed to Europe to entertain the troops. Shaw and his band -- which included trumpeter Max Kaminsky, drummer Dave Tough and pianist Claude Thornhill -- were sent to the Pacific Theatre, where they toured in 1943 and 1944.
"We wound up playing for huge crowds of military personnel, at times as many as 20,000 Marine paratroopers lying on the side of a hill, sometimes covered by ponchos in sudden rainstorms. I had never realized what an immense impact our music had on American kids," Shaw wrote.
"It was astonishing, seeing the looks on the faces of those kids as they listened, and realizing that what you'd done had real significance to these men. I remember when we played on the (USS) Saratoga, the great big aircraft carrier; they put us on the flight deck and we came down, just the reverse of the Paramount Theatre, where you came up.
"We came down into this great cavern of space, with 3,000 men in dress whites waiting there. We hit the first notes of (his theme song) 'Nightmare' and this roar of recognition went up. I couldn't believe it. All I could think was, 'Boy, we've really done something.'
"The impact of bands like mine on the American psyche can't be overstated. It kind of makes clear why at one point Admiral Halsey publicly remarked that my band was worth more to the war effort than a Liberty Ship full of sulfanilamide (an antibiotic). The music was the real wonder drug.
"But war is not just hell, it's sheer lunacy, and by the time we got back to the United States I was pretty much burnt out -- so much so that I ended up spending months in a Naval Hospital. I was a wreck, and after a few weeks, I decided to try psychoanalysis as a way to get back into civilian life," Shaw wrote.
In his warts-and-all candor, a Shaw self-assessment would not be complete without touching on the war years, which marked the mid-point of his bandleading career. The music he selected for the five-CD set, totaling 95 tracks, showcases his virtuosity on clarinet and the variety of bands he created to play the music he envisioned and often wrote and arranged.
They included his first big band, which was built around a string quartet, to his various hard-swinging Gramercy Five units (actually sextets) and his "bebop band" orchestra of 1949 that featured tenor sax greats Al Cohn and Zoot Sims -- who left Woody Herman's band to join Shaw.
The material includes Shaw staples, including: "Creampuff," "Begin the Beguine," "Frenesi," "Star Dust," "Concerto for Clarinet," "Blues in the Night," and klezmer-influenced "Dr. Livingstone, I Presume," and many works adapted from the "American Songbook."
There's a splendid 1938 version of Shaw's "Any Old Time," featuring vocalist Billie Holiday in her only recording with the band. It had been pulled off the market shortly after its release because Holiday was under contract to a rival label.
Various labels over the years have released so-called "complete Artie Shaw" compilations but they lacked the leader's input -- and the ability to draw from multiple labels and his private reserve of live recordings from broadcast performances on radio.
"Too many compilations have included stuff I never did much care for, pop material I'd been pressured or coerced into recording. I never had much respect for most pop tunes, and none of that material is here," Shaw said.
"In the end, then, I've chosen only those performances that come reasonably close to what I had in mind when I did them."