How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
If you're a fan of music that straddles that line between jazz and blues, Jay McShann's Still Jumpin' The Blues will hit you where you live. No one epitomizes Kansas City jump better than 83-year-old McShann, the smooth pianist and veteran band leader. McShann plays and sings with incredible energy on this charming set of tunes featuring guitarist Duke Robillard and his band, as well as sassy vocalist Maria Muldaur.
McShann and Robillard are a highly compatible pair, and their interplay is marvelous on some familiar chestnuts ("Goin' To Chicago, "Moten Swing," "Ain't Nobody's Business") and a few obscure numbers ("Say Forward, I'll March," "She's Got It"). Maria Muldaur's appearance is a real highlight as she colors Julia Lee's "Come On Over To My House" and Bessie Smith's classic "Backwater Blues" with style and attitude. McShann's piano work is intricate and bluesy, and his fingering still evokes his original idol, Earl Hines. I've always thought McShann's vocals a bit nasal, but I can't complain about his performance here.
The CD concludes with an 18-minute interview during which McShann talks about the origination of his nickname "Hootie," Kansas City during the '30s, and Charlie Parker (whom he discovered). A wonderful collection throughout.