All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Big Jay McNeely

Big Jay McNeely

Big Jay McNeely brought the tenor sax to prominence in the golden age of R&B, known as the “King of the Honkers,” for his wild style and outrageous showmanship..

Tenor saxophonist Cecil “Big Jay” McNeely was born in Watts, California, on April 29, 1927, he formed his own band with jazz legends Sonny Criss (alto sax) and Hampton Hawes (piano) while still in high school. But in late 1948, when he was asked to record for Savoy Records, he abandoned jazz for something more raucous and struck paydirt when his second release, a honked-up instrumental called “Deacon's Hop,” went to #1 on the national R&B charts in February 1949. For the next several years, Big Jay was famed for his playing-on-his-back acrobatics and his raw, hard-swinging playing. During his act he'd leave the stage, walk across the top of the bar, and sometimes walk out the door of the club, often with a line of people following him.

Read more

6 Photos View in Slideshow

Discography

 

King Of The Honkin'...

Screwgun Records
2011

buy
 

Central Avenue...

Bourbon Records
1999

buy
 

Blow The Wall Down!

Screwgun Records
1990

buy
 

Big "J" In 3-D

Screwgun Records
1988

buy
 

The Best Of

Screwgun Records
1985

buy
 

Loose On Sunset

Screwgun Records
1984

buy

Videos

Similar

Louis Jordan Louis Jordan
sax, alto
Illinois Jacquet Illinois Jacquet
sax, tenor
Big Joe Turner Big Joe Turner
vocalist
Earl Bostic Earl Bostic
sax, alto
King Curtis King Curtis
saxophone
Bill Doggett Bill Doggett
organ, Hammond B3
Pee Wee Crayton Pee Wee Crayton
guitar, electric
Johnny Otis Johnny Otis
producer
Booker T & the MG's Booker T & the MG's
band/orchestra