Artie Shaw has claimed that when it came to jazz clarinetists, Benny Goodman, his longtime rival, may have been the better player, but Shaw was a better musician. The distinction is important. For those who adore the sounds that emanate from Shaw’s horn, no one in jazz history has ever taken the “licorice stick” to the heights of expression and improvisatory perfection as the reluctant Swing Era superstar. Shaw, who gave up the clarinet at the zenith of his playing in the 1950s, handpicked the selections for Self Portrait, and he makes a strong case for himself as both a masterful player and an innovative bandleader. The set brilliantly charts Shaw’s art, hitting upon all the great moments of his stardom during the 1930s and ‘40s, as well as important work from the 1950s. Superior hits are accounted for (“Begin the Beguine,” “Stardust,” “Frenesi”), as are many lesser-known but equally important performances representing both Shaw’s big bands and small groups. Shaw’s exceptional sidemen, and -women, are also given their due, including trumpeters Roy Eldridge and Hot Lips Page, pianists Hank Jones and Dodo Marmarosa, and vocalists Tony Pastor and Billie Holiday. And through it all, one hears Shaw’s liquid phrasing, flawless tonal control, and superior improvisational skills. Goodman or Shaw? If that isn’t an example of apples versus oranges, then what is?