Big Jay McNeely

"Get On Up and Boogie (Parts 1, 2, and 3)"

Big Jay McNeely by Onno Wink
Photo by Otto Wink.

From the Album
Party Time,
Stichting Boogie Promotions [Netherlands], 2009.

Big Jay McNeely Party Time


Intensity in music as we know it today starts with Jump Blues, the black music of the late 1940’s and 1950’s that predates rock and roll. Wynonie Harris’ 1948 hit “Good Rockin’ Tonight” kicked off this intensity explosion with a six month reign in the R&B Top Ten.  With it came a wave of intense jump blues performers trying to outdo each other with faster and fierier performances.  Many of them were saxophonists, and were anthologized in a 1970’s compilation series called Honkers and Screamers.

Big Jay McNeely was easily the most intense of the Honkers and Screamers, and was a live concert sensation throughout the 1950’s.  His concerts resembled frenzied, out-of-control religious revivals, with Big Jay going into saxophone hysterics and pulling physical stunts that made the bar-walking routine look tame.  His initial R&B hit was “The Deacon’s Hop”, which went to #1 on the R&B charts in 1949 and earned him the nickname “The Deacon”.  The biggest hit of his career arrived ten years later with “There Is Something On Your Mind,” which stayed on the R&B charts for six months in 1959.

We’re proud to report that Big Jay is still with us, and still tears it up!  Big Jay is a regular headliner at The Netherlands' International Boogie Woogie Festival, and recorded an album called Party Time (2009) with backup from festival regulars The Martijn Schok Boogie & Blues Band. The Party Time album has throughout it the spontaneous sound of a live party band that's keeping the girls dancing and the booze flowing.  The cat singing and wailing the blues throughout most of the album is none other than Big Jay himself, doing double duty as saxophonist and singer.

Big Jay requested that we feature “Get On Up and Boogie (Parts 1, 2, and 3)” on This is Vintage Now because it’s the one with the best Jump Blues vibe, but there’s not a bad song on this essential 1950’s/60’s-style R&B tour de force. Martin Schok followed it up with Party Time Vol. 2 (2011), which continues the Party Time theme with even more good time tunes, and adds some brand new verisons of some of his best-known songs to sweeten the deal.

Get Party Time on CD Baby; you won’t be disappointed.

(Note: Big Jay McNeely’s discography is quite lengthy, and we hope to include a complete discography on the site eventually. currently has the most complete Big Jay discography available online.)