Bertie King discography...
the bandsthe musicianshome pagethe clubsthe recordstime linegallerydiscographiesodds + endslinks
Bertie King discography...
Bertie King was born in Colon, Panama on 19th June, 1912. He moved with his family to Jamaica at the age of 16 and proved to be a talented saxophone and clarinet player. He came to the UK in January, 1936 at a time when there was a contingent of West Indian musicians supplying the 'coloured' club scene in London with jazz and swing music. King went straight into the Ken 'Snakehips' Johnson West Indian Dance Band, generally reckoned to be the best swing band in London at the time. Although Johnson played swing on the radio and in the clubs his records were more commercial and do not capture the vitality of the band. King was in demand elsewhere and played with both Coleman Hawkins and Benny Carter in the late 1930s before joining the Royal Navy at the start of the second world war in December, 1940.
Invalided out of the Navy in 1943 he worked with a string of top bands including Joe Loss, Geraldo and Eric Winstone before forming his own band in 1943.
From 1944 he worked with the swing band of Leslie 'Jiver' Hutchinson until 1946 when he went on tour with the popular Blue Rockets, formerley a section within the George Melachrino Orchestra.

After a couple more years on the dance band circuit he started to freelance in London including a spell with Harry Parry and also led a ten piece all-black band on a BBC Jazz Club broadcast.
Through the 1950s he had periods working alternately in Montego Bay in the West Indies and London and had a few record dates with his own band as well as recording with Kenny Baker, Kenny Graham and the Jazz Today Unit. He toured with his own band in Singapore, India and New Zealand before returning to the UK until November, 1958 when he returned to Jamaica until August, 1963. On returning to London in November he freelanced until in1967 he left the music business and moved to the USA. In 1981, while managing a condominium in California, he was the victim of a violent, fatal assault. (thanks to Jill Cox for her help in preparing this page).

His work with 'Snakehips' Johnson and 'Jiver' Hutchinson dating from the 1930s and 1940s can be heard on an excellent CD: (Topic CD - Black British Swing)

More information on the Black British Swing bands...
Vic Lewis and Carlo Krahmer Band - June 30th, 1938 (Lincon Rhythm Style)
Leslie 'Jiver' Hutchinson (tp), George Chisholm (tb), Bertie King (cl,as), George Shearing (p), Vic Lewis (g), Joe Muslin (b), Carlo Krahmer (d,vib).
I Aint Got Nobody*/Shine On Harvest Moon*#/Angry*/Stooge Blues*#.
(*Candid CD - Vic Lewis 'The Golden Years' 1938,1945 and 1946)
(#Retrospective CD - George Chisholm The Gentleman of Jazz - A Centenary Tribute)

Leonard Feather and Ye Olde English Swynge Band - September 12th, 1938 (Decca)
Dave Wilkins (tp,vcl), Andy McDevitt (cl), Bertie King (ts), Leonard Feather (p-1,cel-2), Will Solomon (p-3), Alan Ferguson (g), Len Harrison (b), Hymie Schneider (d).
Colonel Bogey -3 (2 takes)/Widdecombe Fair - 3 (DW vcl)/Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes -2,-3/Early One morning -1 (2 takes).

Nat Gonella and his Georgians - July 22nd, 1946 (Decca RFL12)
Nat Gonella, Monty Montgomery, Bruts Gonella, Fred Dinning (tp), Frank Osbourne (tb), Bertie King, Sandy Herd (as), Ronnie West, Kenny Graham (as,ts) Al Dallaway (p,arr), Roy Plummer (g), Lennie Bush (b), Phil Seamen (d).
Murder.

With the inreasing interest in the new modern jazz sounds at this time, the 'Melody Maker' and 'Columbia Records' held a joint jazz rally at which the Harry Hayes Band and the Woolf Phillips groups played. Besides these top bands other groups were formed featuring most of the musicians attempting to pioneer bebop in Britain. Bertie King and Carl Barriteau had been playing in the coloured swing bands operating in London in the 1940s and big band trumpeter Reg Arnold played a solo hinting at something different to his usual swing sound.
Melody Maker's Jazz Rally - June 29th, 1947 (All issued on Columbia)
Reg Arnold (tp), George Chisholm (tb), Bertie King (as) Cliff Townsend (vln), Ralph Sharon (p), Frank Deniz (g), Jack Collier (b), Jock Cummings (d).
I've Found A New Baby.
Same date
Frank Weir, Carl Barriteau (cl), Harry Hayes, Bertie King (as), Tommy Whittle (ts), Ralph Sharon (p), Dave Goldberg (g), Jack Collier (b), Jock Cummings (d).
Confessin'/C Jam Blues/Thriving On A Riff*.
(*Proper Records 4CD Box set - Jazz in Britain 1919 - 1950)

Bertie King's Jazzband - October, 1951 (Melodisc)
Bertie King (as,cl), Freddy Grant (ts), Mike McKenzie (p), Fitzroy Coleman (g), Neville Boutut (b), + bongo, Tony Johnson (vcl).
Donkey City/Sweetie Charlie (vcl)/Imogene (unissued)/Sly Mongoose (vcl), (unissued).

Kenny Graham's Afro-Cubists - February 5th, 1953 (Esquire)
Jo Hunter (tp), Kenny Graham , Derek Humble, Joe Temperley, Bertie King (ts), Oscar Birch (bs), Ralph Dollimore (p), Sammy Stokes (b), Phil Seamen (d) + conga.
I'll Remember April/Jump For Joe (two takes)/A Night In Tunisia (two takes)/Take The 'A' Train (three takes).

Bertie King's Jazzband - October 28th, 1954 (Columbia)
Tommy McQuater (tp), George Chisholm (tb), Bertie King (ts,cl), Mike McKenzie (p), Cedric West (g), Sammy Stokes (b), Eddie Taylor (d).
Rosetta/All Of Me/Big House Blues/Small Hour Fantasy.

Bill Riseboro has provided details of a National Jazz Federation concert at the Royal Festival Hall, London that took place on October 30th, 1954 when Bertie King played three titles with the Chris Barber Band. They were issued on a Decca EP (DFE6238) and included: Merrydown Blues/Skokiaan/I'd Love It. Bill describes the three numbers as hybrid with King fronting the band and playing inventive spiky solos....clearly pushing the band, and the energy really comes over...There is a CD including the Bertie King titles (Verve CD - The Best of Dixieland)...

Kenny Baker and Jazz Today Unit - February 21st, 1955 (Polygon)
Kenny Baker (tp), Keith Christie (tb), Joe Harriott, Bertie King, Bruce Turner (as), Jimmy Skidmore (ts), Harry Klein (bs), Dill Jones (p), Cedric West (g), Frank Clarke (b), Eric Delaney (d).
Blues In Threes*.
(*Castle 3CD box set - Too Hot - The Best of British Mainstream Jazz)
(*Giant Steps CD - Killer Joe: Birth Of A Legend)

(*Vocalion CD - Kenny Baker & The Jazz Today Unit - Operation Jam Session)

Bertie King Jazz Group - April 6th, 1955 (Polygon JTL5)
Kenny Baker (tp), George Chisholm (tb), Bertie King (as,cl), Harry Klein (bs), Dill Jones (p), Cedric West (g), Frank Clarke (b), Eddie Taylor (d).
Blues In My Heart#/Blue Lou*#/Once Upon A Time#.
(*Castle 3CD box set - Too Hot - The Best of British Mainstream Jazz)
(#Vocalion CD - Kenny Baker & The Jazz Today Unit - Operation Jam Session)

Jazz Today Unit - April 20th, 1955 (Nixa NJE1006) (JMC11)
Kenny Baker (tp), George Chisholm (tb), Vic Ash (cl), Bertie King (as), Jimmy Skidmore (ts), Harry Klein (bs), Dill Jones (p), Bill Le Sage (acc), Cedric West (g), Frank Clarke (b), Eddie Taylor (d).
Symphony In Riffs (part 1)*#/Symphony In Riffs# (part 2).
(*Castle 3CD box set - Too Hot - The Best of British Mainstream Jazz)
(#Retrospective CD - George Chisholm The Gentleman of Jazz - A Centenary Tribute)

Kenny Baker and Friends - January 18th, 1956 (Midnight at Nixa - Nixa NJL3)
Bruce Turner, Bertie King (as), Derek Smith (p), Franke Clarke (b), Phil Seamen (d).
Tea For Two* (Baker out).
(*Castle 3 CD box set - Too Hot - The Best of British Mainstream Jazz)
(*Vocalion CD - Midnight at Nixa & After Hours - A Session for Kicks)

George Chisholm and his Orchestra - March 23rd, 1956 (Decca LK4147)
George Chisholm, Ken Goldie (tb), Bertie King (as), Derek Collins (ts), Alan Clare (p), Ike Isaacs (g), Joe Muddel (b), Phil Seamen (d).
Blue's For Two's*#/'Deed I Do*/Lazy River*#.
(*Vocalion CD - "Chis" The Art of George Chisholm)
(#Retrospective CD - George Chisholm The Gentleman of Jazz - A Centenary Tribute)

Bertie King Jazz Group - September 20th, 1956 (Nixa NJT506)
Kenny Baker (tp), George Chisholm (tb), Bertie King (as), Kenny Graham (ts), Cliff Townsend (bs), Derek Smith (p), Cedric West (g), Lennie Bush (b), Phil Seamen (d).
Blue Interlude*/Skip It*/Lazy Afternoon*.
(*Vocalion CD - Kenny Baker & The Jazz Today Unit - Operation Jam Session)

Jimmy Skidmore's Jazz Group - October 12th, 1956 (Nixa NJT506)
Leslie Hutchinson (tp), George Chisholm (tb), Bertie King (as), Jimmy Skidmore (ts), Max Harris (p), Major Holley (b), Phil Seamen (d).
Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea/Coquette*/You Took Advantage Of Me*.
(*Castle 3CD box set - Too Hot - The Best of British Mainstream Jazz)

Bruce Turner - February 20th, 1958 (Pye/Nixa)
Bruce Turner, Bertie King (as), Derek Smith (p), Frank Clarke (b), Phil Seamen (d).
Tea For Two*.
(+Lake CD - Bruce Turner - accent on swing)


This page was last updated during May, 2015.
Any comments welcomed, please click on email below...