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Jay McShann

Biography

Pianist and sometime vocalist Jay McShann led a Jump Blues big band that could get as uptown and sophisticated as often as it was down-home and gritty. The orchestra had a hard time making it after World War II, and McShann became a mainstay on the L.A. scene, and though he still played beautifully, he was in danger of becoming a footnote in jazz history for hiring the young Charlie Parker. Deservedly, McCann was rediscovered by the jazz world in the late 1960s a period which is full of lip-smacking trio and small group improvisations. The Retro/Swing crowd will want to check out his recordings from the '40s, which feature earthy vocalist Jimmy Witherspoon but most of his sides are well worth investigating. McShann cut plenty of great jazz and he also helped lay the groundwork for rock 'n' roll.
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