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HAPPY BIRTHDAY! The Jay McShann Centennial Birthday Bash

January 16 @ 6:00 pm - 11:00 pm


The American Jazz Museum in association with the family of Jay McShann, celebrate the centennial of the birth of this great Kansas City icon of jazz and blues music. 

Program Overview

Program Title:
The Jay McShann Centennial Birthday Bash | $20 admission

Program Location:
Gem Theater at 1615 E. 18th Street
in the 18th & Vine Historic District

Partner Funding Organizations:

  • Historic Jazz Foundation
  • Neighborhood Tourism Development Fund
  • City of Kansas City, Missouri
  • American Jazz Museum
  • Program Tickets: $20

    Project Summary

    The Historic Jazz Foundation, the City of Kansas City, Missouri and the American Jazz Museum will host THE JAY McSHANN CENTENNIAL BIRTHDAY BASH to celebrate the life and music of James Columbus “Jay” McShann (January 12, 1916 – December 7 2006), who was a jump blues, mainstream jazz and swing bandleader, pianist and singer.

    KCUR jazz producer and Marr Sound Archives director, Chuck Haddix will provide an overview of Jay McShann’s life that will transport attending guests to the 1940s when McShann was a leader at the forefront of the blues and hard bop music scenes. Haddix will reveal how McShann assembled his own band with musicians who were among the most influential artists of their time, such as Charlie Parker, Bernard Anderson, Ben Webster and Walter Brown. Haddix will also note how McShann’s style of music became widely known as “the Kansas City sound.”

    Additionally, Sonie Joi Thompson-Ruffin, American Jazz Museum Curator will present an new Jay McShann exhibition in the Gem Theater Mezzanine Gallery containing various McShann artifacts.

    The celebration event will take place from 7:00pm to 11:00pm on Saturday, January 16, 2016 at the Gem Theater at 1615 E. 18th Street in the 18th and Vine Historic District.

    Master of Ceremonies is Gerald Dunn, American Jazz Museum Entertainment Director.

    Special musical guests include: Bobby Watson and his All Stars; Benny Green; and Joe Cartwright and Company, which features Everette Freeman (piano), Gerald Spaits (bass), Rod Fleeman (guitar), Adam Galblum (violin), Todd Strait (drums) along with vocalists – Lisa Henry, Lester “Duck” Warner and David Basse.

    Program Tickets: $20

    VIDEO: Pianist Jay McShann performs with Plas Johnson (on tenor sax), Milt Hinton (on bass) and others in 1990.


    About Jay McShann

    James ColumbusJayMcShann (January 12, 1916 – December 7, 2006) was a jump blues, mainstream jazz, and swing bandleader, pianist and singer.

    During the 1940s, McShann was at the forefront of blues and hard bop jazz musicians mainly from Kansas City. He assembled his own big band, with musicians that included some of the most influential artists of their time, including Charlie Parker, Bernard Anderson, Ben Webster and Walter Brown. His kind of music became known as “the Kansas City sound”.

    Early life

    Nicknamed Hootie,[1] McShann was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Musically, his education came from Earl Hines‘ late-night broadcasts from Chicago’s Grand Terrace Cafe: “When ‘Fatha’ [Hines] went off the air, I went to bed”.[2] He began working as a professional musician in 1931, performing around Tulsa, Oklahoma and neighboring Arkansas.

    26 jay mcshann

    Later life and career


    McShann moved to Kansas City, Missouri in 1936, and set up his own big band, which featured variously Charlie Parker (1937–42), Al Hibbler, Ben Webster, Paul Quinichette, Bernard Anderson, Gene Ramey, Jimmy Coe, Gus Johnson (1938–43),[3] Harold “Doc” West, Earl Coleman,[4] Walter Brown, and Jimmy Witherspoon among others. His first recordings were all with Charlie Parker, the first as “The Jay McShann Orchestra” on August 9, 1940.

    Although they included both swing and blues numbers, the band played blues on most of its records; its most popular recording was “Confessin’ the Blues”. The group disbanded when McShann was drafted into the Army in 1944 and, the big-band era being over, he was unable to successfully restart it after the war ended.[citation needed]


    After World War II McShann began to lead small groups featuring blues shouter Jimmy Witherspoon. Witherspoon started recording with McShann in 1945, and fronting McShann’s band, and had a hit in 1949 with “Ain’t Nobody’s Business“. As well as writing much material, Witherspoon continued recording with McShann’s band, which also featured Ben Webster. McShann had a modern rhythm and blues hit with “Hands Off“, featuring a vocal by Priscilla Bowman, in 1955.[citation needed]

    In the late 1960s, McShann became popular as a singer as well as a pianist, often performing with violinist Claude Williams. He continued recording and touring through the 1990s. Well into his 80s, McShann still performed occasionally, particularly in the Kansas City area and Toronto, Ontario where he made his last recording “Hootie Blues” in February 2001 after a recording career of 61 years. In 1979, he appeared prominently in the documentary on Kansas City jazz, The Last of the Blue Devils.[citation needed]

    McShann died on December 7, 2006 in Kansas City, Missouri, aged 90.[5] He was survived by his companion of more than 30 years, Thelma Adams (known as Marianne McShann), and three daughters.



    *Source: Wikipedia

    Program Tickets: $20


    American Jazz Museum


    Gem Theater
    1615 E. 18th Street
    KANSAS CITY, 64108 United States
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    This calendar contains events from multiple organizations, including the American Jazz Museum. All event information is subject to changes.