Saturday, December 09, 2006

Jay McShann, Jazz Giant, Passes

Jay McShann, a giant of jazz, passed away on December 7 at the age of 90. McShann led the last great Kansas City big band in the 1930s and early 1940s. It was with McShann that Charlie Parker cut his earlier records. (Here's a CD of early Bird with McShann that I would like to hear.) McShann's band featured the blues vocals of Walter Brown, but it was a very important band. Check out this collection of his early 1940s sides. The All Music Guide says " last of the great Kansas City swing big bands." I've read that the McShann band was far more adventurous than what was captured on disc. It is also said that the trunk carrying McShann's arrangements was lost and never recovered when he was drafted into WWII.

After the war when big band swing was out of style, McShann regrouped with a jump swing band. There are number of fine cuts by his groups on the Mercuary Blues and Rhythm Story the Southwest and West Coast.

In 1969 McShann was rediscovered and often featuring violinist Claude Williams, he toured constantly, recorded frequently, and appeared at many jazz festivals, being active into the mid-'90s.

Of his more recent recordings, I recommend Last of the Blue Devils, Man from Muskogee, and Still Jumpin' the Blues--recorded when he was 83.

I had the pleasure of hearing McShann live several times in Wichita and Kansas City.

90 Years of McShann (KC Star)

Slideshow with some McShann music--very nice!!!

KC Star story on Clint Eastwood, McShann, and Pinetop Perkins.

"I grew up listening to a record of `Hot Biscuits' by Jay McShann," Clint Eastwood said. "That and a beer was as good as it got when I was a kid."
The official Jay McShann website
NPR Jazz Profile with sound segments both interviews and music
McShann was featured, along with other KC swing giants in the 1979 documentary Last of the Blue Devils, watch an excerpt here.

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