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Jess Stacy

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Jess Stacy (August 11, 1904 - January 1, 1995) was an American jazz pianist who began during the Swing Era.

Stacy was born Jesse Alexandria Stacy in Bird’s Point, Missouri, a small village across the Mississippi River from Cairo, Illinois. He grew up along the Mississippi river and initially played on riverboats,

In the 1920s he moved to Chicago, Illinois where he made a name for himself playing with Paul Mares. Later he worked with Benny Goodman and performed with him at Carnegie Hall in 1938. The Carnegie Hall performance has gained attention due to an unplanned, yet widely praised, solo by Jess during “Sing Sing Sing”. His solo performance will live forever as a new generation marvels at the compact discs of that concert.

Stacy also spent time with the bands of Bob Crosby, Horace Heidt, and Tommy Dorsey and recorded with Eddie Condon. He put together a big band of his own and recorded with Lee Wiley to whom he was married for a time. By the late 1940s he moved to California, his career declined to mostly club work and he eventually retired from public playing. For a time, he worked as a salesman for Max Factor cosmetics. That is until the 1950 recording of the Carnegie Hall concert came out and there was renewed interest in the man’s playing, and a realisation that he was a genius. He returned to playing again in 1974 and produced Stacy Still Swings in 1977. The years after that included compilations and some club work. He died of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles, California.

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