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Album Review

Jay McShann, from whose Kansas City orchestra altoist Charlie Parker emerged in 1940, has had a very viable career as a pianist and occasional vocalist in the 65 years since then. McShann's piano style, while emphasizing the blues, has often sounded at its best on swing standards, hinting at stride piano and boogie-woogie but being in its own uncategorizable style. The two-CD set Solos & Duets reissues in full three earlier LPs. A Tribute to Fats Waller, nine songs associated with Waller, and Kansas City Hustle (which has a few basic originals plus "'Round Midnight," "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," and "Rockin' Chair") are from the same two-day period in 1978. The 1980 album Tuxedo Junction, featuring a couple of McShann's bluish originals plus five swing standards, is a duet outing with bassist Don Thompson. In addition, the "three-fer" adds previously unreleased vocal versions of "Baby Won't You Please Come Home" and "Keep Your Hands Off Her" to the very full program. Throughout this definitive reissue, Jay McShann is heard in prime form, displaying his own brand of rollicking musical joy.


Born: 12 January 1916 in Muskogee, OK

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The great veteran pianist Jay McShann (also known as Hootie) enjoyed a long career and it is unfair to primarily think of him as merely the leader of an orchestra that featured a young Charlie Parker. He was mostly self-taught as a pianist, worked with Don Byas as early as 1931 and played throughout the Midwest before settling in Kansas City in 1936. McShann formed his own sextet the following year and by 1939 had his own big band. In 1940 at a radio station in Wichita, KS, McShann and an octet out...
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Solos & Duets, Jay McShann
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