Jay McShann

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Jay McShann
Jay McShann in Edinburgh.jpg
Jay McShann at The Edinburgh Jazz Festival, c. 1995 Photo: Phil Wight
Background information
Birth name James Columbus McShann
Also known as Hootie
Born (1916-01-12)January 12, 1916
Muskogee, Oklahoma, U.S.
Died December 7, 2006(2006-12-07) (aged 90)
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Genres Blues
Swing
Jazz
Jump blues
Bebop
Occupations Musician, Bandleader, Composer, Soldier
Instruments Vocals, Piano
Years active 1931–2006
Labels Vee-Jay Records

Jay McShann (January 12, 1916 – December 7, 2006) was a jump blues, mainstream jazz, and swing bandleader, pianist and singer.

During the 1940s, McShann was at the forefront of blues and hard bop jazz 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"[1][2]

Biography[edit]

Nicknamed Hootie,[3] McShann was born James Columbus McShann in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Musically, his education came from Earl Hines' late-night broadcasts from Chicago's Grand Terrace Cafe: "When 'Fatha' [Hines] went off the air, I went to bed".[4] He began working as a professional musician in 1931, performing around Tulsa, Oklahoma and neighboring Arkansas.

Orchestra[edit]

He moved to Kansas City, Missouri in 1936, and set up his own big band, which featured variously Charlie Parker (1937–42), Al Hibbler, Ben Webster, Paul Quinichette, Bernard Anderson, Gene Ramey, Jimmy Coe, Gus Johnson (1938–43),[5] Harold "Doc" West, Earl Coleman,[6] Walter Brown, and Jimmy Witherspoon among others. His first recordings were all with Charlie Parker, the first as "The Jay McShann Orchestra" on August 9, 1940.[7]

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, the big-band era being over, he was unable to successfully restart it after the war ended.[citation needed]

Smaller groups[edit]

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. McShann had a modern rhythm and blues hit with "Hands Off", featuring a vocal by Priscilla Bowman, in 1955.[citation needed]

In the late 1960s, McShann became popular as a singer as well as a pianist, often performing with violinist Claude Williams. He continued recording and touring through the 1990s. Well into his 80s, McShann still performed occasionally, particularly in the Kansas City area and Toronto, Ontario where he made his last recording "Hootie Blues" in February 2001 after a recording career of 61 years. In 1979, he appeared prominently in the documentary on Kansas City jazz, The Last of the Blue Devils.[citation needed]

Influence[edit]

On one of their earliest albums, Five by Five (a UK EP) and 12x5 (a US LP) (both 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.[citation needed]

Death[edit]

Jay McShann died on December 7, 2006, at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, aged 90.[8] He was survived by his companion of more than 30 years, Thelma Adams (known as Marianne McShann), and three daughters.

Honors[edit]

Discography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ^ Kansas City has the blues and all that jazz
  2. ^ see Kansas City Jazz on Wikipedia
  3. ^ Scott Yanow at allmusic
  4. ^ jaymcshann.com > about Jay McShann
  5. ^ Obituary: Gus Johnson, 1913—2000, "A Sensitive Drummer in Many Contexts"
  6. ^ Feather, Leonard & Gitler, Ira The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz Oxford University Press US, 2007 ISBN 0-19-532000-X, 9780195320008 at Google Books
  7. ^ TJD Jazz Discography: Tom Lord: "Jumpin' at the Woodside" was their first
  8. ^ Obituary, theindependent.co.uk; accessed January 24, 2014.
  9. ^ Discogs
  10. ^ Discography, allmusic.com; accessed January 24, 2014.

External links[edit]