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John Kirby

John Kirby (December 31, 1908 – June 14, 1952), was a jazz double-bassist who also played trombone and tuba. In addition to sideman work (prominently with Benny Goodman), Kirby is remembered for leading a successful chamber jazz sextet in the late 1930s and early 1940s, which scored several hit songs including "Loch Lomond" and the debut recording of "Undecided", a jazz standard.

Kirby joined Fletcher Henderson's orchestra as a tuba player in 1929. In the early 1930s, he performed some complicated tuba work on a number of Henderson's recordings, but switched to double-bass when tuba fell out of favor. In the early 1930s, Kirby took bass lessons from Pops Foster and Wellman Braud (bassist with Duke Ellington). About 1933 Kirby left Henderson to play two stints with drummer Chick Webb, before returning to Henderson, and then join Lucky Millinder; he briefly led a quartet in 1935, but was usually employed as bassist in others' groups.

Jazz enthusiast John Hammond assembled what he felt was the greatest jazz band ever to record with Billie Holiday and pianist Teddy Wilson. This band included Roy Eldridge (trumpet), Ben Webster (tenor sax), John Truehart (guitar), Cozy Cole (drums) and Kirby on bass. Hammond said, "He is by far the best bass player around. It had to be Kirby on the first Teddy Wilson-Billie Holiday recording date."

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Listen to John Kirby on Swing City Radio.  We are a Big Band Radio Station playing a wide selection of Big Band and Swing music.

Swing City Radio plays John Kirby - Listen to our station and hear the songs:
One Alone
Impromptu
K.C. Caboose
It’s Only A Paper Moon
Little Brown Jug


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