Jay McShann: Going to Kansas City
Liner Notes   Cat. No. 80358     Release Date: 1987-01-01

Jay McShann, piano, vocals; Buddy Tate, tenor sax, clarinet; Julian Dash, tenor sax; Gene Ramey, bass; Gus Johnson, Jr., drums

Jay McShann secured a lasting place in jazz history on April 30, 1941, when he became the first bandleader to usher Charlie Parker into a studio for a commercial recording session. For years, that was how McShann was remembered, if at all—as an early benefactor of the most influential figure in modern jazz. Shamefully, it took the jazz literati three decades to recognize Bird's old boss as a dynamic force himself.

McShann's advocacy of Parker was hardly his only distinction as a bandleader. A riffing powerhouse in the Kansas City mode of Benny Moten, Count Basie, and Andy Kirk, the Jay McShann Orchestra was the last of the Southwestern "territory" outfits to go national. Its soloists, Parker excepted, may have lacked the charisma of their Basie counterparts, but its arrangements (especially those by Skippa Hall and William Scott) were frequently more imaginative than the Basie band's while no less rough-and-tumble.

Going to Kansas City—arguably the finest flower of McShann’s late bloom—was recorded in 1972, seven years before his appearance in the film The Last of the Blue Devils solidified his rank among jazz elders. In his liner notes for the original MJR release, the producer Bill Weilbacher explained the inspiration for teaming McShann with Buddy Tate and the late Julian Dash: "First, because tenor saxophones can be terrific blues instruments and blues and McShann go together; second, because tenor saxophones are great riffing instruments and riff tunes are a very important part of the Kansas City tradition; third, because two tenors with a rhythm section is a rather unusual instrumentation and we thought that it would likely stimulate the players in its novelty; and fourth, because we imagined that Jay McShann's right hand would function very much like a brass choir in this instrumentation, tending, therefore, to put this aspect of his style into focus."

Going to Kansas City was a treasure in 1972, in part because albums by McShann were then so scarce. It remains a treasure, even though there is no longer a shortage of McShann on record. Music as savvy, exuberant, and timeless as this will always be a rare commodity.

Jay McShann

Jay McShann: Going to Kansas City

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Track Listing

Doggin' Around
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Hootie's Ignorant Oil
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Blue and Sentimental
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Hootie's in Hutchinson
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Say Forward, I'll March
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Four Day Rider
Walter Brown
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Moten Swing
Bennie Moten
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