Tuesday, January 12, 2010


American Grammy Award--nominated blues,mainstream jazz and swing bandleader, pianist and singer James Columbus McShann, best known as Jay McShann ,was born on December 12th, 1916 in Muskogee, Alabama.

During the 1940s, McShann was at the forefront of blues and hard bop jaz musicians mainly from Kansas City. He assembled his own big band, with musicians that included some of the most influential artists of their time, including Charlie Parker,Bernard Anderson, Ben Webster and Walter Brown. His kind of music became known as "the Kansas City sound".

Nicknamed "Hootie", McShann started his musical education listening to Earl Hines' late-night broadcasts from Chicago's Grand Terrace Ballroom: "When 'Fatha' [Hines] went off the air, I went to bed". He began working as a professional musician in 1931, performing around Tulsa,Oklahoma and neighboring Arkansas.

He moved to Kansas City, Missouri in 1936, and set up his own big band, which featured variously Charlie Parker (1937-1942), Al Hibbler, Lawrence Anderson, Ben Webster, Bernard Anderson, Gene Ramsey,Jimmy Coe,Gus Johnson (1938-1943), Harold "Doc"West, Earl Coleman and Walter Brown, among others.

Although they included both swing and blues numbers, the band played blues on most of its records; its most popular recording was "Confessin' the Blues." The group disbanded when McShann was drafted into the Army in 1944, and he was unable to successfully restart it when he got out.

After World War II McShann began to lead small groups featuring blues shouter Jimmy Witherspoon. Witherspoon started recording with McShann in 1945, and fronting McShann's band, and had a hit in 1949 with "Ain't Nobody's Business." As well as writing much material, Witherspoon continued recording with McShann's band, which also featured Ben Webster, until 1951, whence McShann then played in obscurity until 1969.

McShann later became popular as a singer as well as a pianist, often performing with violinist Claude Williams. He continued recording and touring through the 1990s.

Jay McShann passed away on December, 2006, in Kansas City.

Jay McShann plays.


Reference - Wikipédia

Trivia - On one of their earliest albums, Five by Five (1964), The Rolling Stones recorded a cover of "Confessin' the Blues", a song McShann had co-written with Walter Brown in the 1940s.
Crime-fiction writer Elmore leonard featured McShann as a character in his 2005 novel, The Hot Kid.

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