Sunday, December 10, 2006


He's Swinging the Ancestors Now: Legendary Jazz Band Leader Jay McShann Dies

Charlie Parker playing in the McShann Band.

For me, the Kansas City blues painists were funketeers of the highest order, and although it might be called backward-looking revisionism, I can hear in them melodic harbingers of all of the Black American music that follows, right up to Hip Hop. Jay McShann gave Charlie Parker his start and was one of those heroic musical creators who kept the world dancing and snapping their fingers through the harrowing near-death of western civilization that was World War II. So for me great sadness and deep gratitude accompany the passing of Brother McShann at age 90 (or 97 depending on who you ask).

In 1987, McShann visited the studios of Fresh Air and laid down some serious piano. Remember him well by taking another listen to this great musician, bandleader, mentor and vocalist. May he be welcomed into the great swinging party that is going on right now wherever the ancestors are gathered on the other side. We'll miss him.

Fresh Air: 1987 Interview with Jay McSahnn

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