John Kirby

Boss of the Bass

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John Kirby was never actually the "boss of the bass," even back in the 1930s, but he was an important bandleader. The second half of this admirable two-LP set features his unique group on 14 of their more rewarding recordings from 1939-41. The complex yet tight arrangements and concise solos by the virtosi (trumpeter Charlie Shavers, bassist Buster Bailey, altoist Russell Procope, pianist Billy Kyle, drummer O'Neil Spencer and Kirby on bass) gave the John Kirby Sextet a unique sound of its own. The first of these two LPs contains 14 selections featuring Kirby as a sidemen with such groups as the Chocolate Dandies, Fletcher Henderson, Chick Webb, Putney Dandridge, Teddy Wilson, Charlie Barnet and Lucky Millinder along with backup work with early versions of his sextet behind singers Midge Williams, Maxine Sullivan and Mildred Bailey. A well-conceived reissue, it contains more than its share of exciting swing performances.