Jimmy Raney began his jazz guitar career very early with the history showing he played in the Jerry Wald band in 1944 at age 17. Later that same year he went to Chicago where he worked in local groups and then in 1948 he did a brief stint with Woody Herman. He made some of his earliest recordings with Al Haig (Talk A Little Bop) and with Buddy De Franco (Extrovert) at about that same time in New York, and then joined the Artie Shaw Orchestra in 1949 at the age of 22.
He made a number of recordings with Shaw's orchestra often featured as a soloist. His solo on Fred's Delight from 1949 was an eight bar gem. In 1951 Jimmy Raney joined the Stan Getz Quintet and over the next three years produced, what some feel, his best work. The best examples of the collaboration of Raney and Getz were the live Storyville recordings. These sessions offered the first recorded examples of Jimmy Raney's ability to play chorus after chorus of creative, finely articulated solos.