Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oscar "Lucky" Wesley, 1927-2010

Rest in peace.
You ain't been blue
'Til you've had that mood indigo.
That feeling goes stealing down to my shoes
While I sit and sigh.
Go along blues.

Forgive my sentimentality. Listening to the hopelessly obscure Live at the Sni-Blue Lounge album makes me misty even in the best of times. The audience chatter and relaxed performance by a mid-'70s version of the Scamps transport me to an era in which the Kansas City jazz scene had long since peaked but still boasted many of its most illustrious legends.

Even in the late '80s it was possible to catch the likes of Jay "Hootie" McShann, Claude "Fiddler" Williams, Speedy Huggins, Priscilla "Rock and Roll Mama" Bowman and Sonny Kenner in area clubs. Even the names of these musicians were great. The owner of another wonderful name- Oscar "Lucky" Wesley- died last Saturday. The bassist and vocalist's most notable gigs were with McShann, the Five Aces and the Scamps.

As I recently noted at Plastic Sax, my Kansas City jazz blog, I last saw Wesley on February 27. Alarmingly frail, he struggled to participate in a chat with Ben Kynard and Sellie Truitt.

An otherwise fine history of the Scamps makes no mention of the Live at the Sni-Blue Lounge album that features Wesley. It probably dates from the mid-'70s. A 23-track British compilation of the group's (pre-Wesley) late-'40s sessions is the only commercially available Scamps title.

Go along blues.

Kansas City Click: Maynard James Keenan's Puscifer is at the Uptown Theater Wednesday.

Kim Sivils and Steve Rigazzi serenade diners Thursday at Grand Street Cafe.

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