Jay McShann
The Big Apple Bash New World http://www.tinymixtapes.com//sites/default/files/arton5243_0.jpg

[New World; 1971]

Rating: 5/5 5 / 5 (0)

Styles: jazz blues, boogie-woogie, swing
Others: Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Duke Ellington


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This is one of the very first jazz records I bought, just as I was beginning to cut my teeth in the genre. It was on vinyl, and to this day I have yet to see it on compact disc or any other format. The point is, you'll probably have to bury your nose in several used record stores before you come across this little gem-- but, trust me, it will be worth your trouble.

Charlie Parker aficionados may know McShann from his piano work on Parker's early records (he appears on, "Lady Be Good," for example), but he shines equally bright on his own. "Crazy Legs & Friday Strut," sets the tone for the entire record, flowing and grooving out of the gate with remarkable sophistication and style; a few bars of bluesy piano, accompanied only by drums and bongos, followed by the entrance of horns. The track also makes laudable use of electric guitar, managing to keep it within the framework of "classic jazz" and out of the realm of jazz-fusion. "Georgia On My Mind," sees McShann singing, a feat almost up to par with his piano playing. Listening to him moan and groan over a melancholy saxophone and mournful piano, in his beautifully weathered voice, lamenting, "There's no peace I'm gonna find/ Just an old sweet song, keeps Georgia on my mind,” is poignancy at it’s best. The side ends with the less moody, more jovial, “Dickie’s Dream,” which, taking its cue from the opening track, relies almost entirely on a good hook, big, noticeable drums, and a number of solos.

On side two, Janis Siegel, of The Manhattan Transfer vocal quartet, joins McShann on a version of, “Ain’t Misbehavin” and the two take part in a lazy carefree duet. The following two tracks follow in the same relaxed, slow-tempo air, while the closer, “Jumpin' the Blues,” once again assumes the hop and bop of the first side. Composed by Jay McShann and Charlie Parker during their time together in the late thirties, it is played with such remarkable fluidity and spontaneity that it sounds like it was made yesterday. Some of McShann’s finest lyrics are also on the track: “When you’re feeling lonely and nothing seems okay/ Just drive your troubles and jump your blues away/ Well you have no troubles, boy that’s all a lie/ So I’ll be jumping the blues till the day I die.”

It’s difficult to rate an album like this; it’s difficult to rate any album of the past, period. As with most of my favorite recordings, I see The Big Apple Bash as a laminated piece of paper which can no longer be written on, and on which nothing may be detracted; as a timeless entity elevated above the hands of human scrutiny. But, that is simply my own philosophy; go out and buy this record: you might just come up with one of your own.

1. Crazy Lugs & Friday Strut
2. Georgia On My Mind
3. Dickie's Dream
4. Ain't Misbehavin'
5. I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water
6. Blue Feeling
7. Jumpin' The Blues

1. Crazy Lugs & Friday Strut
2. Georgia On My Mind
3. Dickie's Dream
4. Ain't Misbehavin'
5. I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water
6. Blue Feeling
7. Jumpin' The Blues