Jay McShann – the legendary pianist, band leader and singer would have turned 100 on January 12th of this year. His contributions to Jazz, as well as to the popularity of Jump-Blues are far-reaching. As purveyor of The Kansas City Sound, McShann pioneered Bop and Jump-Blues with his own band made up of some of the most influential musicians of the day, including Charlie Parker, Ben Webster, Walter Brown and many others. After the War, and with the demise of the Big Band era, McShann led smaller groups, further melding Jazz and Blues and began a long association with blues shouter Jimmy Witherspoon. Later he would team up with Jazz violinist Claude Williams and continue touring all through the 1990s.
McShann continued playing and recording all the way to 2001, when his last session was recorded in February of 2001. Sadly, McShann passed away on December 7, 2006, just shy of his 91st birthday.
This set, a short one at a little over 9 minutes, captures the spirit and vitality of an artist long associated with the melding of Jazz and Blues, from the Kool Jazz Festival in 1982. Still going strong at the time, McShann is the elder statesman and his set is memorable.
In case you missed him, or maybe have just heard about him but never actually heard him playing a live gig, here is an opportunity to hear Jay McShann in this later period of his career in a concert setting. Fortunately, his work both as soloist and as band leader have been well-recorded and available in a number of compilations. Certainly in the area of blues, you can’t talk about Urban influences of the 1940s without mentioning Jay McShann. He’s in the history books.