Artie Shaw was an American clarinetist, composer, and bandleader. Also an author, Shaw wrote both fiction and non-fiction. Widely regarded as "one of jazz's finest clarinetists," Shaw led one of the United States' most popular big bands in the late 1930s through the early 1940s. Their signature song, a 1938 version of Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine", was a wildly successful single and one of the era's defining recordings. Musically restless, Shaw was also an early proponent of Third Stream, which blended classical and jazz, and recorded some small-group sessions that flirted with be-bop before retiring from music in 1954.