Album:The Very Best of Vee Jay Blues Volume 2
Kansas City jazz legend Jay McShann is best known for leading his orchestra since the 30s. A lot of great musicians went through his band. But he took a sharp turn to the top of the R & B charts with the 1955 hit Hands Off featuring singer Priscilla Bowman. Before he was drafted into the US Army during WWII, McShann had a very successful big band featuring Charlie Parker. After WWII, McShann realized that big bands were dead so he led a series of smaller bands. He usually had a singer. Jimmy Witherspoon was with the McShann band in 1949 when he recorded his signature song Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do. Priscilla Bowman joined the McShann band in the early 50s. She was from Kansas City and was known as The Original Rock 'N' Roll Mama. McShann signed with Vee Jay Records in 1955. Hands Off was the first single and it topped the R & B charts for three weeks. Musicians on the record were Orville Minor on trumpet, Oscar Dennis on sax, Eugene Griddline on guitar, Oscar Wesley on bass and Al Duncan on drums. After a couple more singles with McShann, Priscilla went out on her own and recorded for the Vee Jay subsidiary Falcon and then Abner Records. The singles on Falcon were with Al Smith's orchestra. On the single A Rockin' Good Way, she was backed up by the popular doo wop group The Spaniels. That song would later be a hit for Brook Benton and Dinah Washington. You can get Hands Off on this Vee Jay various artists comp. Priscilla Bowman didn't record again until 1986. But she continued to tour with McShann. She died in 1988 at age 60. Jay McShann continued to tour for many years until his 2006 death at age 90. I'm sure a lot of jazz fans don't even know about Hands Off. Here's a video for Hands Off featuring Priscilla Bowman.