James Columbus McShann, 12 January 1916, Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA, d. 7 December 2006, Kansas City, Missouri, USA. After playing in many territory bands in the south-west and Midwest, pianist McShann settled in Kansas City in the mid-30s, playing in Buster Smiths band, which also included Charlie Parker, in 1937. The following year, McShann formed his own unit which included Gene Ramey and Gus Johnson as well as Parker. By 1941, with the departure from Kansas City of Harlan Leonard, McShanns became the citys top band, Count Basie having moved on to greater things a few years earlier. The most popular member of the band was singer Walter Brown, who was featured on a handful of hit records, although McShann was himself an above-average blues shouter. In retrospect, the 1941 band is regarded as the most interesting of those McShann led because the saxophone section included the fast-developing and revolutionary talent of Parker. In fact, all...
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