1986 Interview with Jay McShann

Dec 11, 2006

Jay "Hootie" McShann tells the story of how he first came to Kansas City, and put together his first band.

Kansas City, MO – Jay McShann said he discovered the blues as a young man, listening to the radio and records by Bessie Smith and James P. Johnson. He was a self-taught pianist - he just picked out the songs he heard on the family piano.

McShann was a native of Muskogee, Oklahoma. Territorial bands like Bennie Moten and Clarence Love sparked McShann's interest in jazz. These bands were based in Oklahoma and Texas and toured a circuit that extended south to the Mexico border, north to Canada, west to Denver, and east to St. Louis. McShann played with the territorial bands before coming to Kansas City in 1936.

Jay McShann spoke to Ken Poston on KCUR in 1986.