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Jay McShann

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Muskogee OK, United States (1916 – 2006)

James Columbus (Jay or Hootie) McShann (January 12, 1916 – December 7, 2006) was an American blues and swing pianist, bandleader, and singer.

McShann was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and 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 Charlie Parker (from 1937 to 1942), Bernard Anderson, Ben Webster and Walter Brown. Although its book 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 the war McShann began to lead small groups featuring blues shouter Jimmy Witherspoon. Witherspoon started recording with McShann in 1945, and fronting McShann’s band, had a hit in 1949 with “Ain’t Nobody’s Business.” McShann then played in obscurity until 1969, when he became popular as a singer as well as a pianist, often performing with 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.

Crime-fiction writer Elmore Leonard featured McShann as a character in his 2005 novel, The Hot Kid.

On December 7, 2006, McShann died at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City.

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  • taobliss

    saw him in kansas city with cilla bowman &bb king...smokin'

    14 Aug 2008 Reply
  • F_Hole

    Hootie is da man!

    5 May 2008 Reply
  • Gabrocks

    Man, this guy rocks, but I can't get enough of him, even in the P2P web...

    10 May 2007 Reply