Jay McShann: Kansas City Blues


Kansas City Blues


Jay McShann (piano, vocals)


After Hours (Storyville STCD 8279)

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Jay McShann (piano, vocals).

Recorded: Copenhagen, April 12, 1977


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

In the 1930s, Kansas City was not just the geographical center of America; it was also a prime center of jazz, jazz that was saturated with the blues. Especially in the earlier '30s, it was the destination for so many musicians from the Midwest, Southwest and beyond. As the lyrics to this classic tune begin, "Goin' to Kansas City, Kansas City, here I come."

Pianist and band leader Jay McShann was one of the greats who made K.C. a little slice of musical heaven in those days (with a whole lot of devilish playing going on, musical and otherwise). On "Kansas City Blues," as on a terrific companion track on the CD, After Hours, McShann plays with drive and momentum, verve and great dynamics; the rolling bass his left hand plays provides a wonderful, rumbling foundation. Also, I can't think of any of the many recordings of this tune that offer a piano intro that manages to be so lushly ravishing and bluesy with punch. And Jay plays and sings this song like he's having a heck of a good time. You will too as you listen.

(As a singer, Jay McShann - a vigorous 68 when this was recorded - was no B.B. King or Louis Armstrong. But the pretty good 'regular guy-type' singing actually adds to people's enjoyment of this popular tune, because it's like he's channeling our own voices. And the sheer fun he's having is contagious.)

Reviewer: Dean Alger


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