Analogue Productions Originals 2011 Direct-to-Disc Sessions
Pressed at Quality Record Pressings in Salina, Kansas
Cutting engineer — Kevin Gray
"Rock 'n' Roll saxophone pretty much begins with Big Jay McNeely. He's the king of the honkin', squealin', bar walkin', flat-on-his-back Blowin' tenor men — the Number One 'real gone guy' of the '50s." — Black & White Blues
Tenor saxophonist Cecil "Big Jay" McNeely has been "the king of the honkers" for more than 60 years, and he's still blowing his horn like a man craving someone he can't have. Born in Watts, California, in 1927, he formed his own band with jazz legends Sonny Criss (alto saxophone) and Hampton Hawes (piano) while still in high school. But in late 1948, when he was asked to record for Savoy Records, he abandoned jazz for something more raucous and struck pay dirt when his second release, a honked-up instrumental called "Deacon's Hop," went to No. 1 on the national R&B charts in February 1949.
For the next several years, Big Jay, according to The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, "was famed for his playing-on-this-back acrobatics and his raw, hard-swinging playing."
In 1959 Big Jay enjoyed a huge hit with a blues ballad called "There Is Something On Your Mind," featuring Haywood "Little Sonny" Warner on vocals. The record stayed on the R&B charts for six months and reached as high as 44 on the pop charts. The song was later a hit for Bobby Marchan and has been recorded by B.B. King, Etta James, Freddy Fender, The Hollywood Flames, Gene Vincent, Albert King and Professor Longhair among others.
In 2000 the Experience Music Project in Seattle installed a special Big Jay McNeely exhibit that includes his original Conn saxophone; the Smithsonian magazine put the horn on its June 2000 issue cover, along with Jimi Hendrix's hat, Janis Joplin's feather boa and Eric Clapton's Stratocaster.