JAY Hootie











Jay "Hootie" McShann was born in Oklahoma sometime between 1909 and 1917, although most sources quote 1916 as his year of birth. He learned piano by listening to recordings and then practising them, although he also received tuition from his sister who played the church organ. He is often described as a second generation boogie woogie player, along with the likes of Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson, and Meade Lux Lewis. When he was in his early twenties he moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where his career really took off. At that time Kansas City was known as an "open" town, and alcohol was freely available during the prohibition era, bars were open all night and gambling, crime, prostitution and drugs were all an accepted part of the scene. As a result the City was prosperous even during the years of the depression and it was an environment in which jazz thrived.

 On 12th Street, the centre of the music scene, there were always top jazz bands playing including the Orchestras of Count Basie and Bennie Moten. It was at this time that McShann put together one of the strongest bands ever to come out of Kansas City, members including Charlie Parker. It was also at that time that McShann developed his famous boogie woogie style. He stayed in Kansas City until 1942, when he moved to New York City to play at the Savoy Ballroom. In 1943 he was drafted into the army and when he left when the 2nd World War ended, the era of the big-band was coming to an end. McShann returned to Kansas City, where he raised his family, played locally with small groups and also studied music at the University of Missouri. In the 1960's he successfully resumed his recording and touring career. He is one of the true legends of blues and jazz and he received many awards and honours. A documentary film, "Hootie Blues" was made about his life and he was also showcased in the film "Last of the Blues Devils". He died on December 7th 2006.