JAY McSHANN was born in Muskogee, Okla. in 1917. His sister was
the church organist. Jay listened to the hymns she played and
began picking them out by ear. Soon he had the entire hymn book
memorized and often substituted for her though he couldn't read
a note. He expanded his repertoire and developed a dance style
by listening to phonograph recordings. He worked a few jobs around
Muskogee and later in Nashville where he attended Fisk University
for a short time. He left school to join Al Dennie's band in Tulsa.
Because of his fine ear, he was able to play any of the arrangements
after hearing them once. Dennie didn't discover he couldn't read
until several months later when they rehearsed an arrangement
that opened with a piano solo. Determined to learn how to read,
he attended Southwestern College at Winfield, Kansas for a year.
His course of study included music appreciation and sight singing.
He then joined Eddie Hill's orchestra and traveled through New
Mexico and Arizona before going to Kansas City in 1934. There
he listened to and jammed with many of the Kansas City greats.
Jay organized his own band which, after rising to local fame,
broke into the national limelight. His style reflects the influence
of Mary Lou Williams, Count Basie and Pete Johnson.
All of the midi files on the net have been cut back.. Features
such as stereo and other effects have been stripped out. These
are snips of the originals.
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