Jay McShann

The Last of the Blue Devils

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When Charlie Parker first came to New York in 1942, he was a sideman in Jay McShann's big band. Every jazz fan knows what happened after that -- Parker changed the world and McShann became a footnote in Parker's biography. That's too bad, and not just for him; if the 1978 session remastered and reissued on this disc is anything to go by, McShann had much more to offer the world than his role as caregiver to the inventor of bebop. Leading an all-star cast that includes saxophonist Paul Quinichette, the ubiquitous Milt Hinton on bass, and a young, up-and-coming guitarist named John Scofield, McShann teaches an entire course on the history of blues-based jazz, going from his own "Confessin' the Blues" through "Hootie Blues" (which he co-wrote with Parker and Walter Brown) and an intensely swinging version of Count Basie's "Jumpin' at the Woodside." He goes off on a welcome tangent with Pete Johnson's sweet stride ballad "Just for You" and comes on home with the boogie-woogie composition "'Fore Day Rider" and Leiber and Stoller's "Kansas City." Highly recommended.

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