“The Last of the Blue Devils”
Jay “Hootie” McShann landed in Kansas City in the 1930s, and along with fellow pianist and bandleader Count Basie, established what came to be known as the Kansas City sound: blues rooted jazz driven by swinging horns laid over a powerful but relaxed rhythmic pulse.
James Columbus McShann was born in Muskogee, Okla., on Jan. 12, 1916. He learned to play piano as a young boy by tagging along with an older sister to piano lessons and imitating music he heard on the radio. One of the piano men he heard and would be influenced by was Earl “Fatha” Hines whose live broadcasts from Chicago’s Grand Terrace Hotel he would listen to. By 15, he was working with saxophonist Don Byas and other groups across the Southwest.
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