After Hoagy Carmichael recorded his hypnotic Star Dust in October 1927 and May 1928, the song caught on and began to be cut almost monthly in studios by jazz artists such as Louis Armstrong in 1931 and Art Tatum in 1934. As a result, the sheer number of Star Dusts makes it tough to name a definitive version. Certainly Clifford Brown's with strings is up there. So is John Coltrane's, Jimmie Lunceford's, Ben Webster's and Sonny Stitt's.
But perhaps my favorite is by the Artie Shaw Orchestra in October 1940, when he was carrying a string section in addition to his band. Showcasing three soloists on that recording (arranged by Shaw and Lennie Hayton) was pure genius—Billy Butterfield's chest-thumping trumpet, Shaw's mannered clarinet and Jack Jenney's mournful trombone.
Most fans of the Shaw recording wish Jenney had been given more space to expand his solo, since it's his melancholy mood on trombone that catches your heart. Well, your wish has been granted—sort of. Before Jenney recorded Star Dust with Shaw, he led his own orchestra and recorded Star Dust in October 1939.
Here's the famous Shaw version of Star Dust from 1940, followed by Jenney's recording of 1939 and an alternate take. Plenty of Jenney trombone to go around. A special JazzWax thanks to John Cooper...