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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Hootie's Blues; A Centenary Tribute
his 27 finest 1941-55




Swingmatism - (with Charlie Parker)
Hootie Blues - (with Walter Brown/Charlie Parker)
Dexter Blues - (with Charlie Parker)
Vine Street Boogie
Confessin' the Blues - (with Walter Brown)
Hold 'Em, Hootie
'Fore Day Rider - (with Walter Brown)
So You Won't Jump
Hootie's Ignorant Oil - (with Walter Brown)
Lonely Boy Blues - (with Walter Brown/Charlie Parker)
Get Me On Your Mind - (with Al Hibbler/Charlie Parker)
Jumpin' Blues, The - (with Walter Brown/Charlie Parker)
Sepian Bounce - (with Charlie Parker)
You Say Forward, I'll March
Come On Over To My House - (with Julia Lee)
Moten Swing
Voodoo Woman Blues - (with Jimmy Witherspoon)
I Want a Little Girl - (with Jimmy Witherspoon)
'Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do - (Part 1, with Jimmy Witherspoon)
McShann Bounce
Spoon Calls Hootie - (with Jimmy Witherspoon)
Hot Biscuits
The Duke And the Brute - (with Ben Webster)
Reach - (with Ben Webster)
Hands Off - (with Priscilla Bowman)
Jay McShann and his bands
recorded 1941-55 [77:02]

The earthy drama of the McShann bands furnished nutritious soil. Charlie Parker, most famously, played and recorded with McShann in 1941 and 1942 but Paul Quinichette, Gus Johnson and Gene Ramey were also amongst its most august members. This fine selection of tracks made during the years 1941 to 1945 captures the band in its early glory stomping, driving, jumping and most adeptly of all investigating the Blues.

The Blues, Kansas City style, was its forte. In Walter Brown and Jimmy Witherspoon it had two of the best shouters in the business. The rhythm section, tightly swinging, urged on both singers and the driving front line alike; this was a band that always sounded bigger than it was. The arrangements may have been functional - as in Swingmatism – but they provided a splendid platform for exciting solos and galvanising ensemble work. Parker announces himself here with effortless brilliance. Boogie was high on the agenda and McShann proved to be a master of genre playing – from Pine Top to occasionally essaying the stylistic externals of his contemporaries, Teddy Wilson and Count Basie most prominently.

Sometimes one has to bear the incursion of commercial opportunism. Al Hibbler’s questionable talents do little for Get Me On Your Mind – this was at a session in which Walter Brown was also in the studio, the band performing and recording with both singers. Julia Lee, always underrated, is a different proposition and makes a vibrant showing in her one outing. Spoon and Brown’s tracks are classic McShann statements and the leader rolls out all his Kansas powerhouse drive on his own McShann Bounce. Further pleasure comes when Ben Webster joins the band and drives his way through The Duke And the Brute.

Digby Fairweather writes the accomplished notes and the track selection and restoration is first class. But whilst this is a timely centenary salute it is also a clone of Living Era AJA5667 which presented identical material and the same booklet note back in 2007. Don’t get this if you have that!

Jonathan Woolf

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