Master Musician Fellowship, 1997

Cecil James (Big Jay) McNeely, a legend of the R&B and jazz music scene, is known as the “King of Honking Tenor Saxophone. ” Mr. McNeely has been performing his pioneering style of music since the 1940s, touring with other well known performers such as Billie Holliday, Dizzy Gillespie, Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry, and Bill Haley & the Comets. “Big Jay McNeely was famed for his playing-on-his-back acrobatics and his raw, hard-swinging pyrotechnics, both of which influenced rock guitarists, including Dick Dale and Jimi Hendrix.” (The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll) Mr. McNeely regularly tours throughout Europe, North Africa, Australia, Japan, and to US jazz festivals.

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