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John Kirby & His Orchestra

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Album Review

This budget LP, despite its inaccurate personnel and date listings, has some valuable and rare music from bassist John Kirby. Most of the tunes are taken from radio airchecks, with the exception of a four-song studio date from Apr. 26, 1945 that was originally made for the Asch label. There are four songs from the classic Kirby Sextet (with trumpeter Charlie Shavers, clarinetist Buster Bailey and altoist Russell Procope) and titles from 1943-46, when the horn players included the underrated altoist George Johnson, trumpeters Emmett Bailey and Clarence Berenton and the tenor of Budd Johnson. Recommended for swing collectors; hopefully this interesting music will be reissued on CD.

Biography

Born: 31 December 1908 in Baltimore, MD

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s

John Kirby led a most unusual group during the height of the big-band era, a sextet comprised of trumpeter Charlie Shavers, clarinetist Buster Bailey, altoist Russell Procope, pianist Billy Kyle, drummer O'Neil Spencer, and his own bass. Although Shavers and Bailey could be quite extroverted, the tightly arranged ensembles tended to be very cool-toned and introverted yet virtuosic. Kirby, originally a tuba player, switched to bass in 1930 when he joined Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra. He was one...
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