|Kirchin Band - Dance halls and the BBC...|
Most of the information on this page has been taken from Tony Middleton's "THE KIRCHIN BAND 1952 - 1957 " ...|
The Kirchin Band started life on September 8th, 1952 as resident band at the Fountainbridge Palais in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was an eleven piece band with four trumpets, four saxes, piano, bass and drums, and this line up never changed. The absence of trombones gave them a harder, edgier sound than other palais bands and the Kirchin Band was an instant success. Literally everything about the concept was new and it caught on very rapidly. At the end of the first year, for instance, the band had broken attendance records wherever it played, and after only ten months in existence was voted the fourth best band in the Melody Maker annual readers poll. One aspect of the band's performance was the quality of sound. Certainly the Kirchin Band's playing was uninhibited, direct and impossible to ignore - but it would have been less vibrant if it had been reliant on a venue's own PA equipment. The Kirchin's took no chances. Unlike any other band on the circuit they toured with their own sophisticated sound system. The band did not record until 1954 but was heard on the radio on a number of BBC programmes.
September 8th, 1952 The band started it's engagement at the Fountainbridge Palais with the following personnel: George Bradley, Dennis Roberts, Trevor Lanigan, Frank Mowatt (tp), Geoff Taylor (as), Johnny Marshall, John Xerri (ts), Alex Leslie (bs), Harry South (p), Don Percival (b), Basil Kirchin (d), Ivor Kirchin (vcl,dir). This was a long engagement, the band did not move on until November 1953 when they took up another residency in Northern Island.
April 17th, 1953 The band were featured on the BBC Scottish Home Service in a half hour long live outside broadcast from the Fountainbridge Palais. Harry Kirkland shared the vocals with Ivor Kirchin.
September 20th, 1953 A Sunday evening concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London featuring Teddy Wilson. The band travelled from Scotland and returned immediately after.
October 2nd, 1953 Another BBC Scottish Home Service programme from the BBC studios in Edinburgh. This was 25 minutes long. Johnny Grant shared the vocals with Ivor Kirchin.
November 17th, 1953 The Kirchin band began a residency at the Plaza Ballroom, Belfast, Northern Ireland, which lasted until March 8th, 1954.
January 20th, 1954 The band were featured on BBC Northern Ireland in a half hour long live outside broadcast from the Plaza Ballroom. Johnny Grant shared the vocals with Ivor Kirchin.
During the Belfast engagement the Kirchin Band with vocalist Ruby Murray recorded a thirteen week commercial radio series for Radio Luxembourg sponsored by the Red Island holiday camp...
The band returned to London in March 1954 and played a week each at the Royal Ballroom, Streatham Locarno and the Strand Lyceum before returning to the Royal for a summer residency. This brought the band to the attention of the London dancers and also the EMI A&R man George Martin that lead to them signing a recording contract with Parlophone. Records followed regularly until the band broke up in 1957.
December 24th, 1954 The band were featured on the BBC Light Programme in a forty-five minute broadcast, their longest yet with vocalists Johnny Grant and Marion Davis.
January 8th, 1955 Another broadcast on the BBC Light Programme this time for half an hour, again with vocalists Johnny Grant and Marion Davis.
June 14th, 1955 The band was now being recognised as a swing/jazz type band and they were on a Swing Session broadcast on the BBC Light Programme. The show was shared with others and the Kirchin Band played three arrangements by Jimmy Deuchar: Flying Hickory, Lester leaps in and Swing session and a vocal from Johnny Grant.
June 14th, 1955 Further recognition of their jazz abilities followed and the band played on a British Jazz broadcast, compered by Dill Jones, on the BBC Light Programme. This was a fifteen minute feature and they played Asia Minor, Lester leaps in and The great lie.
August 16th, 1955 Another Swing Session broadcast on the BBC Light Programme. The show was shared with others, this time the band played six titles instead of four: Asia Minor, There will never be another you, Concepts, Flying hickory, Perdido, and The great lie.
The Kirchin Band had, by now, become a popular choice to accompany touring US stars. The programme notes for a concert with Cab Calloway at the Davis Theatre in Croydon in September 1955 list the Kirchin Band personnel as follows: Frank Donlan, Trevor Lanigan, Ian Hamer, George Boocock (tp), Brian Haden, Alan Rowe, Harry Perry, George Robinson (saxes), Johnny Patrick (p), Ashley Kozak (b), Basil Kirchin (d), Clyde Ray (vocals).
November 1st, 1955 Now known as the Ivor and Basil Kirchin Band they made their first appearance on television for ARTV. The name of the programme is not recorded but the band played Jeepers Creepers with a tenor solo by Alan Rowe. Also shown were a vocal by Vickie Dean and a drum feature for Basil Kirchin.
December 29th, 1955 Another appearance on a top rated show: Jack Payne's Say it with music broadcast on the BBC Light Programme. The band played two titles: Stoneage Mambo arranged by Dave Lindup and Down under.
March 26th, 1956 Jack Payne's Off the record broadcast on BBC TV. The band played one title: Stoneage Mambo arranged by Dave Lindup.
April 21st, 1956 A second appearance on a British Jazz broadcast, compered by Dill Jones, on the BBC Light Programme. This was a fifteen minute feature and they played The opener, Trumpet blues and contabile, Down under and Sing sing sing.
October 29th, 1956 Another appearance on Jack Payne's Off the record broadcast on BBC TV. The band played one title: Ambush arranged by Dave Lindup.
December 19th, 1956 The band was recorded for a Pathe Film Short at the Pathe Studio, Wardour Street, London. the band mimed to the Parlophone recording of Jungle fire dance.
June 30th, 1957 After a date in Great Yarmouth the Kirchin Band broke up. The main reason for the breakup was that Basil Kirchin wanted to do other things. Having by now gained international acceptance Basil found he was trapped within the image of wild uninhibited music, this in spite of the fact that nearly half of his output was not the wild stuff, but beautiful orchestral tones and colours woven into music. He went on to write many film scores and continued to write until his death in 2004. Ivor went back to leading a band on the Mecca ballroom circuit...
It appears that after the break up referred to above, a new format band may have been on the road for a time. Research for "The Festival Hall East Kirkby Band Call 1950 -1963" shows a number of dates after June 30th, 1967 at this venue near Nottingham. On 14/9/57 there was an appearance by "The New Kirchin Band" and later appearances on 23/11/57, 22/2/58, and 26/4/58 were billed as by "The Basil Kirchin Band".
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