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Attention Mac Users!

Mac users have been experiencing problems in unpacking the WinRAR archives used on this blog. Two solutions have been suggested.

1. Use The Unarchiver - - see comments on Little Esther Bad Baad Girl post for details.

2. Use Keka - - see comments on Johnny Otis Presents post.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Jack McVea & His All Stars - Open The Door Richard!

Tenor saxman Jack McVea was always there or thereabouts in the Los Angeles jazz / rhythm & blues scene of the 1940s. He was in the Lionel Hampton big band line-up which recorded “Flying Home”, the number which first brought Illinois Jacquet to the attention of sax fans. He took the first sax solo on “Blues” at the first ever Jazz At The Philharmonic concert, but Illinois took the second sax solo and in a few moments of blasting, screeching, crowd-pleasing madness, Jacquet had defined the future of jazz and R&B tenor sax styling. McVea was on “Slim’s Jam”, along with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Slim Gaillard, and managed to slip in a reference to “Open The Door, Richard!” about a year before he recorded his own hit version of the comedy stage routine.

In 1943 he left Hampton to form one of the first small jump bands in LA and not only released records under his own name, but also provided backing for Wynonie Harris on Apollo Records and T-Bone Walker on Black & White. It was for the latter record company that McVea made the record that was to become one of the biggest selling and most covered records of 1947 – “Open The Door Richard!” While working for the Lionel Hampton outfit a few years before, McVea had toured with a comic called Dusty Fletcher, part of whose stage routine consisted of playing a drunken reveller trying to gain entry to his appartment by rousing his slumbering roommate who happens to have the only key to the front door.

McVea worked up a little spoken musical number for his band’s live act based on the Fletcher routine and recorded it for Black & White in September 1946. The record was released at the end of the year and became a monster seller in 1947, inspiring covers by Louis Jordan, Count Basie and Dusty Fletcher himself. Of course Jack saw very little of the royalties, most of which vanished thanks to some creative accountancy by the record company. McVea’s last recording session for Black & White took place in March of 1947. In November and December of 1947 he recorded several sessions for Exclusive and then took to club work in locations as far apart as Honolulu, Alaska, Las Vegas, and even LA.

Jack signed up with Jake Porter’s Combo Records in 1953. His band was very much the house band at Combo, recording not only under Jack’s name, but also under various guises such as Jonesy’s Combo. They were on Combo’s biggest selling disc, the original version of “Ko Ko Mo” by Gene & Eunice, but once again saw little in the way of royalty payments. As the 1950s wound to a close, so did Jack’s recording career and by the early 1960s he was making a living as a junkman. In 1966 he took up an engagement as clarinet player in a small Dixieland jazz group at Disneyland. It was a gig that lasted until 1992 when Jack finally retired from the music scene. He died in December 2000.

This is a re-up of an LP originally posted on the old Be Bop Wino blog, but with all new cover scans, including the complete gatefold sleeve.

Ripped from vinyl at 320 kbps. I made extensive use of clicking and crackling elimination, which may or may not be a good thing.

Download from here:

1. Bartender Boogie (Black & White 750)
2. Tarrant Blues (Apollo 370)*
3. O-Kay For Baby (Apollo 761)
4. We're Together Again (Apollo 366)*
5. Ooh Mop (Black & White 750)
6. Don't Blame Me (Apollo 761)
7. Frisco Blues (Black & White 751)
8. Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying (Black & White 793)
9. Open The Door Richard! (Black & White 792)
10. Wine-O (Black & White 751)
11. Inflation Blues (Exclusive 260)
12. Groovin' Boogie (Black & White 810)
13. No, No, You Can't Do Dot Mon (Exclusive 266)
14. Jack Frost (Exclusive 266)
15. Mumblin' Blues (Exclusive 270)
16. The Key's In The Mailbox (Black & White 828)

* credited to Rabon Tarrant

More platters that matter -

On the blog: “New Deal” (Jukebox Lil 625) which has more early Jack McVea sides.

Recommended purchases:

“McVoutie’s Central Avenue Blues” (Delmark DE-756)

Compilation of Apollo sides. Includes sides credited to Wynonie Harris, Cee Pee Johnson, Wild Bill Moore and Duke Henderson.

“Fortissimo! The Combo Recordings 1954 -57” (Ace CDCHD 1246)


RecordCollector said...

I love Jack McVea, and love your blog too. You put so much work in your stuff, and you get hardly any comments, a shame!

boogiewoody said...

Thanks for taking the trouble to comment, Record Collector. Lack of comments can be dispiriting at times.

The people who do comment are of course the creme de la creme of music fans!

Baron said...

Thank you BWoody for the 2 McVea lps.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic stuff. I have been a Louis Jordan fan for many years and discovering his contemporaries has been a blast !!
There are a few tracks that sound a lot like Coleman Hawkins on tenor sax, is that Jack McVea ?

Musrafak said...

Please, can you repost this one too?

boogiewoody said...

Hi Musrafak

Sorry I've been slow in getting back to you. I've been working on new scans for both Jack McVea LPs and they should be back on the blog soon.


boogiewoody said...

New link now up.

Musrafak said...

Thanks so much, Mr. boogiewoody

Sommer said...

Thank you so much for the excellent biography of Jack McVea! I'm just discovering him now and I want to play a lot of this music for lindy hoppers.

boogiewoody said...

Hi Sommer - nice to see Swing Dancing is still thriving ... used to do a bit myself.

Nikki B. said...

Jack McVea was my great grandfather. Thanks so much for sharing about his rich full life!

boogiewoody said...

Thank you so much, Nikki. It's an honour to hear from a descendant of the great Jack McVea.