John Kirby and His Orchestra
A Forward Step in The Development of Jazz is an E-Book by Al Williams. Williams is also the founder of the John Kirby Archives and Jazz Foundation (JKAJF) and the author of "Fall From Grace - The John Kirby Story" and "Flow Gently Sweet Rhythm" both out of print.
John Kirby was a double bassist and orchestra leader of what many consider one of the most influential small bands in jazz history. With several notable accomplishments under their belt, one stands out. John Kirby's Orchestra set a precedence in music becoming the first orchestra (black or white, big or small) to host their own radio show on CBS called "Flow Gently Sweet Rhythm" in 1940. They experienced true superstardom combining classical music (Bach, Beethoven, Chopin) and jazz thus coining the phrase “Classic Jazz.” Kirby was born in Winchester, Va., in 1908. He moved to Baltimore, Md. around 1927/28. His former principle, Professor Powell Gibson, started him on his musical journey when Kirby started trombone lessons around 1917. He switched to tuba around 1928 then to double bass around 1930 (he took bass lessons from legendary double basses, Welman Braud and Pops Foster. He became famous in New York City while performing with Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra (tuba and string bass), Chick Webb's Orchestra, Billie Holiday's Orchestra (led by pianist Teddy Wilson) and The Lucky Millinder Orchestra. Kirby moved into the Onyx Club and led his own orchestra from 1937 to 1946. He died in poverty in Hollywood, Ca. in 1952. He was only 43 years old.
Famed saxophonist, Benny Carter and Kirby became friends during their early days in The Fletcher Henderson band and remained friends to his death. Benny Carter paid for Kirby’s funeral and took custody of Kirby’s band books. Upon Benny Carters death, his music and Kirby’s band books were donated to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. To see the band books visit (Archives@si.edu/), go to collections and research aids, all collections, “c” for Carter (Benny Carter), to subseries 1D.
Enjoy this long awaited E-Book which chronicles the early life of Kirby through his development as tubiast, bassist, sideman and bandleader. It also list biographical information about the special blend of musicians who comprised of "His Orchestra."
JKAJF is proud to introduce the first E-Book covering the early life and career of these talented musicians. Your help is needed to expand the foundations research efforts and to educate a new generation of jazz readers to America's jazz heritage and the Kirby legacy. Invest in this incredible jazz story. It's a must read musicians story if there was ever one. John Kirby once said, "We were called The Biggest Little Band in America. For I can imagine no greater compliment."
John Kirby Archives and Jazz Foundation (JKAJF) Purpose
JKAJF is established to increase education and awareness of The John Kirby Orchestra via the internet, music CDs, DVDs, and
JKAJF will conduct jazz related research projects, write and produce biographies about The John Kirby Orchestra jazz legends
such as Charlie Shavers, Billy Kyle, O'Neil Spencer, Russell Procope, Buster Bailey and Maxine Sullivan.
JKAJF will solicit donations via DVD, CD and literature sales to involve the youth music movement in the research and jazz
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