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JOHN KIRBY and his Onyx Club Boys - The Biggest Little Band in the Land 1937-1945

JOHN KIRBY and his Onyx Club Boys - The Biggest Little Band in the Land 1937-1945
CD / Product Number: RTR4312

Here is the best single CD selection available of John Kirby’s famous 6-piece group, creating one of the most popular and distinctive jazz styles of the early 40s. John Kirby (1908-1952) is the first double-bass player to head a Retrospective album. He was indeedthe most accomplished bassist on the jazz scene of the late 30s and early 40s, with a light, subtle sound and a superior technique to his contemporaries. But his biggest claim to fame was as the leader of the Onyx Club Boys, a sextet which deservedly won the accolade: 'The Biggest Little Band In The Land'. This remarkable ‘orchestra’ boasted a starry front line of Charlie Shavers on trumpet, Buster Bailey on clarinet and Russell Procope on alto saxophone, and a rhythm section of Kirby, Billy Kyle on piano and O’Neil Spencer on drums. They developed a brand of neatly swinging ‘chamber’ jazz that enjoyed tremendous popularity. The superlative ensemble playing was contained within polished, tight arrangements and driven by a flexible yet powerful rhythm.
The Biggest Little Band In The Land gives a superb 28-track demonstration of their abilities: a happy blend of standards (e.g. Sweet Georgia Brown, Blue Skies, It’s Only A Paper Moon, St. Louis Blues), originals (e.g. Undecided – their biggest hit, Pastel Blue, Jumpin’ In The Pump Room) and breezy adaptations of classics (e.g. Anitra’s Dance, Lucia Sextette, Beethoven Riffs On). Also, an exuberant Jeepers Creepers features English trumpet star Nat Gonella. At the time, John Kirby’s wife was stylish singer Maxine Sullivan, and their two most successful collaborations, Loch Lomond and My Ideal, are included.


1 Undecided
2 Rehearsin’ For A Nervous Breakdown
3 Pastel Blue
4 From A Flat To C
Maxine Sullivan Her Orchestra
5 Loch Lomond
John Kirby and His Onyx Club Boys
6 Effervescent Blues
John Kirby and His Orchestra, With Nat Gonella
7 Jeepers Creepers
John Kirby and His Onyx Club Boys
8 Anitra’s Dance
9 Sweet Georgia Brown
10 Front And Center
11 Royal Garden Blues
12 Opus Five
13 Blue Skies
14 Rose Room
15 Jumpin’ In The Pump Room
16 Blues Petite
17 Chloe
18 Can’t We Be Friends?
19 Sextette
20 Beethoven Riffs On
21 Close Shave
22 It’s Only A Paper Moon
23 My Ideal (With Maxine Sullivan)
24 No Blues At All
25 St. Louis Blues
John Kirby and His Orchestra
26 Nine-Twenty Special
27 At The Crossroads
28 Mop, Mop!