"Hootie" to his friends, bluesman supreme Jay McShann served as the living legacy to Kansas City jazz. As bandleader, pianist, singer and composer, McShann was an unsung yet influential figure. During the '40s, his orchestra became an important launching pad for prominent soloists including Charlie Parker.
He was a virtuoso musician, known for his work on multiple saxophones and flute. He was also a man who radiated love -- when you met him, he'd hold you tight and kiss you on both cheeks as if you were old friends. Romantic, witty and earthy, his sound was an extension of his personality.
Oscar Peterson's recording career lasted more than 60 years, spanning hundreds of albums as a leader or sideman.
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The famed virtuoso commanded the entire keyboard with incredible dexterity, drive and precision, while performing around the world for more than 50 years, accruing countless honors, awards and critical accolades.
Oscar Peterson: Piano Master
Tito Puente, performing in 1983.
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He was a dynamic percussionist, a masterful arranger and an irrepressible showman. Throughout a career lasting more than 50 years, Puente fused American jazz with Afro-Cuban rhythms, earning him the title King of Latin Music.
For more than fifty years, Rosemary Clooney's simple and exquisite singing style defined her dynamic career. She also appeared in movies and had a star turn on television, but it was her successful and inspired music that cemented her reputation as one of America's finest jazz-based vocalists.
Bandleader Illinois Jacquet was recognized as the king of the tenor saxophone. During his long career, Jacquet played with everyone from Basie to Lionel Hampton and gained notoriety for his wild, honking solo in "Flying Home," which heralded a new approach to playing known as the "Texas tenor style."
Trombonist Al Grey was highly regarded as "the last of the big time plungers" thanks to his skill at using a plumber's plunger to manipulate tones coming from the bell of his trombone. Grey rose to prominence as a soloist and gifted accompanist to singers, developing a unique style playing in the bands of Lionel Hampton and Count Basie.