Personalities | Big Jay McNeely | Forties | Jazz & Blues
(Tenor saxophone, b. 1927)
Cecil James McNeely was born and raised in Los Angeles. Inspired by Illinois Jacquet, McNeely played in high school with future jazz stars Sonny Criss and Hampton Hawes. He was discovered by Johnny Otis and made his recording debut in 1948 with a number-one hit, ‘Deacon’s Hop’. He had another hit in 1959 with ‘There Is Something On Your Mind’. A stomping, screaming wildman, McNeely was the quintessential showboating saxophonist of the 1950s.
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