Andy Kirk

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born May 28, 1898

Husband of pianiste Mary Colston; their son, Andy Kirk, Jr. (deceased) played tenor sax. During childhood moved with his family to Denver, Colorado. Tentative efforts on piano, also sang in school choir, later took up alto sax, tuition from Franz Roth, also received harmony lessons from Walter Light. Did various day jobs before joining 11 piece band led by violinist George Morrison (operating out of Denver). Worked mainly on tuba and bass sax. After touring and recording with Morrison, Kirk worked temporarily as a postman, then joined newly formed Terrence Holder Band in Dallas, Texas, this outfit was later known as the "Dark Clouds of Joy". In January 1929 Holder left and Kirk was appointed leader, the band was first fronted by vocalist Billy Massey, later by Pha Terrell. For one brief spell in 1931 the entire band worked under Blanche Calloway (in Philadelphia), they immediately reverted to their former billing for a residency at Winwood Beach, Kansas City. Throughout the early 1930's Andy Kirk and his Clouds of Joy steadily gained popularity, much of their work was in the mid-west, but as early as 1930 they had played dates in New York. Widespread touring from 1936. The band enjoyed an international reputation from 1936 until 1948 when it disbanded. Kirk moved to the west coast for a while, then returned to New York to manage the Hotel Theresa. He continued to organise big bands for specific engagements during the 1960's. Visited Europe in the 1960's. Worked as a supervisor in the stockroom of New York's Local 802, American Federation of Musicians. (from Who's Who of Jazz Storyville to Swing Street - by John Chilton)


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