Disentangling the wartime broadcast recordings of Andy Kirk and his Clouds of Joy

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This paper draws on research for my book on the Recordings of Andy Kirk and His Clouds of Joy (Oxford, 2019) to explore broadcast recordings made during World War II by Andy Kirk and his Clouds of Joy. These recordings, made for the Armed Forces Radio Service and Coca Cola's Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands, are amongst the most important in the Kansas City band's output and yet they have long been misrepresented in discographies and somewhat misunderstood. In disentangling them I aim to show that they refute any suggestion, forged through critical assessments of the band's studio recordings of the later in the 1930s, that Kirk's band became confined to "sweet" jazz. On the contrary, these broadcast recordings show that Kirk's wartime band was an altogether brasher and more experimental ensemble than might be expected. With the likes of trumpeters Howard McGhee and Theodore 'Fats' Navarro in its ranks came bebop characteristics together with amazing showmanship. The broadcast recordings also represent a more candid depiction of the band's musical performance because the longer form of the taped radio shows meant that, compared to the band's commercial releases, there was additional room for solo work and ensemble choruses. What do these this tell us about the band and about big band jazz more broadly? Only by disentangling such complex wartime discographies can we address this central question and begin the sorts of re-assessments that I propose are long overdue of bands like Kirk's fine ensemble.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2021
EventAssociation for Recorded Sounds Collections Virtual Conference 2021 - Online
Duration: 12 May 202115 May 2021


ConferenceAssociation for Recorded Sounds Collections Virtual Conference 2021
Internet address


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