The Big Read Blog (Archive)

NEA Jazz Master Jay McShann and the Maltese Falcon

Jay McShann at the keyboard. Image courtesy of Chiaroscuro Records

Today, and for most of this month, I'll be celebrating jazz and literature. From the NEA Jazz Master's 30th Anniversary publication: "Known in jazz circles as 'Hootie,' Jay McShann is for the most part a self-taught artist, though he did attend the Tuskegee Institute. He developed a piano style that drew heavily on the blues and boogie woogie." In the introductory montage of The Maltese Falcon audio guide, McShann's lyrical touch underscores a handful of voices discussing what's at the heart of Hammett's classic novel. Whenever possible, we try to integrate music that helps draw attention to an Endowment initiative or honor, but above all else we try to fold in music that truly fits the feeling of the moment or the scene. In this case, producer Dan Stone was going after something light as a lead-up to the darkness just around the corner. [1:16]

[audio:http://bigreadblog.arts.gov//audio/Honey.mp3]

[transcript]

For another great example of Hootie's touch, check out this video featuring a wonderful live rendition of  "Hootie Blues," which follows a brief conversation with jazz lover Clint Eastwood.

To hear the entire Big Read Maltese Falcon audio guide, please go to The Big Read website. There's some excellent music on this show, including an excerpt from another NEA Jazz Master, Milt Hinton.

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