Jack McVea will always be most famous for his big hit "Open the Door, Richard." Although associated with the R&B world due to that 1946 bestseller, McVea was actually a swing stylist whose fairly mellow sound was a major contrast to the honking tenors of the time. He started out playing banjo as a youth (1925-27) before switching to alto. McVea began playing professionally with his father (banjoist Satchel McVea), Dootise Williams' Harlem Dukes (1932), Charlie Echols (1934-35), Claude Kennedy, Edyth Turnham, Cee Pee Johnson and Eddie Barefield (1936). McVea mostly gigged in the Los Angeles area until joining Lionel Hampton in 1940 as a baritonist. He was with Hamp for three years and played with Snub Mosley, but McVea made a much stronger impression when he played on the first Jazz at the Philharmonic Concert. From 1944 on, McVea led his own group most of the time. He appeared on a Slim Gaillard record date in 1945 that included Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker and was quite popular from 1946-48 after "Open the Door, Richard" became a novelty hit. In the 1950s McVea had a lower profile, continuing to lead his own combo in the Los Angeles area and gigging with Benny Carter in 1956. McVea recorded as a leader for Rhythm, Melodisc, Apollo, Black & White and Exclusive from 1945-47 and for Combo and Ace from 1953-55. He also recorded a jazz album for 77 in 1962. From 1966 until the mid-1980s, McVea led a Dixieland-oriented trio at Disneyland, playing clarinet exclusively. When the Disneyland job ended, he retired from music. Jack McVea died in Los Angeles on December 27, 2000. ~ Scott YanowPortions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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