Ivor and Basil Kirchin...
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Ivor and Basil Kirchin band...


Many thanks to Tony Middleton for permission to use his "THE KIRCHIN BAND 1952 - 1957", in preparing these webpages. Published in 1996 it is a biography and discography of the band, a unique record of the band's career...
A typical Kirchin Band concert

Ivor Kirchin (1905-1997) was a drummer, occasional vocalist and dance band leader on the Mecca ballroom circuit from the 1930s through to the mid 1960s. His son Basil (1927-2004) was also a drummer and band leader from the late 1940s. A serious car accident in 1951 put Ivor out of action for several months and during this period Basil took over his fathers band until he recovered, following which the two bands combined to form the Kirchin band.

The combined Ivor and Basil Kirchin band billed itself as the 'Biggest Little Band in the World'. It had four trumpets, four saxophones and three rhythm - no trombones, clever arrangements made it sound bigger than it was and its boisterous style and varied repertoire comprising jazz, latin american and well known standards gave it a big following. The band was formed in September 1952 and it started with a year long engagement in Edinburgh, followed by a winter season in Ireland before coming to London in 1954 for a summer residency and an appearance at the 1954 Jazz Jamboree.

The band had always featured jazz soloists but it was not until 1954 that it secured a recording contract with EMI. Records were issued regularly until 1957. The band disbanded after a date in Great Yarmouth on June 30th, 1957.

Ivor returned to leading a band on the Mecca ballroom circuit, Basil who was no longer interested in the kind of music the band were playing, worked abroad for a number of years in USA, Australia and Switzerland writing scores for films and television before eventually returning to England where he continued to compose during the 1990s.

The Vocalion CD is a fitting tribute to a lively well organised and professional band, with a high standard of musicianship. The previously unreleased live tracks make it clear that the band was heading in the direction of becoming a good jazz based group. It had a loose swinging sound and lacked only a couple of competent jazz soloists. It was unfortunate that the band broke up when it did...

Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughan would only tour England if the band's agent, Harold Davison, promised that they could have the Kirchin Band to accompany them. The following Billy Eckstine eulogy was recorded at the last show of a concert tour in Bradford's Alhambra Theatre...
"As most of you know, I once had a band of my own with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, amongst others whose names may be known to you, but, I must tell you that I have been standing in the wings for every single show this week without missing one of their spots, and never in my life have I heard such a band. It is very difficult for me to believe that they are not American let alone that they are not coloured ; ladies and gentlemen please, your applause for what I sincerely believe to be one of the great bands in the world today, to be ranked alongside Duke, Count and Dizzy ; I give you the Kirchin Band."


One of the features of the Kirchin Band was the number of musicians who played in the band and then went on to make their mark in the jazz world:

Pianist / arranger Harry South joined the band in September 1952 on it's first date and stayed until September 1954 although he continued as an arranger until 1956...

Baritone saxist / arranger Alex Leslie was also in the band at the start in September 1952 but left at the end of 1953 to join the Johnny Dankworth big band...

Bobby Orr played trumpet from January 1953 for a year before embouchure trouble forced him to abandon trumpet playing. He switched to drums and and became one of the UK's best, achieving prominence with Joe Harriott...

Tenor player Duncan Lamont from February 1953 to March 1954...

Buddy Featherstonhaugh the baritone sax player from February to May 1954...

Alto saxist Mike Senn had several spells with the band, the first in 1954, the last in 1957...

The band started recording at the end of 1954 and trumpet players Bobby Pratt or Stan Reynolds, both from the Ted Heath band, were added for some of the high note trumpet work...

In 1955 arranger Dave Lindup who did a lot of work for the Johnny Dankworth and Ted Heath bands started writing for the band as did trumpeter Jimmy Deuchar...

Trumpet player Ian Hamer had a brief spell with the band in 1955 as did that doyen of lead trumpeters Ron Simmonds...

Drummer Tony Crombie sat in with the band for a recording session in 1956...

Stan Tracey joined the band in August 1956 playing piano and vibes as well as arranging, and stayed until the band broke up in June 1957...

The trumpet book was tough and top jazz men Dickie Hawdon and Les Condon played in 1956 and 1957...

Bass player Kenny Napper came in early 1957 and baritone sax player Jackie Sharpe came in for the last few weeks...

It should not be forgotten that Ivor and Basil Kirchin had led separate bands before combining in 1952. Prior to this they had used jazz men of the stature of Hank Shaw (1949), Jimmy Skidmore (1948), Bill Eyden and Damian Robinson...

Memories of Basil Kirchin...xxxxDance halls & the BBC...

Basil Kirchin Record sleeves Ivor Kirchin

All details in this discography have been taken from Tony Middleton's "THE KIRCHIN BAND 1952 - 1957 " ...

The Kirchin Band - August, 1953 (Private recording never issued commercially)
Tony Grant, Stan Palmer, Bobby Orr, Norman Baron (tp), Ronnie Baker (as), Duncan Lamont, John Xerri, (ts), Alex Leslie (bs), John Clarke (p,arr), Ronnie Seabrook (b), Basil Kirchin (d), Clyde Ray (vcl), Ivor Kirchin (vcl,dir).
Too Marvellous For Words (2 takes)/How Deep Is The Ocean (vcl IK)/When I Fall In Love (vcl CR).

The Kirchin Band - September, 1954 (Mercury - unissued)
Tony Grant, Stan Palmer, Trevor Lanigan, Norman Baron (tp), Ronnie Baker (as), Johnny Marshall, John Xerri, (ts), Lennie Dawes (bs), Harry South (p,arr), Ronnie Seabrook (b), Basil Kirchin (d), Ivor Kirchin (dir).
Zambezi/H Bomb.

The Kirchin Band - September, 1954 (Parlophone R3958)
Murray Campbell, Frank Donlan, Dougie Arthur, Norman Baron (tp), Bryan Haden (as), Johnny Marshall, John Xerri, (ts), George Robinson (bs), Johnny Patrick (p), Ronnie Seabrook (b), Basil Kirchin (d), Ivor Kirchin (dir).
Tangerine*/Mambo Macoco*#.
(*Vocalion CD - The Kirchin Band - Gotta Be This Or That)
(#Giant Steps 2CD set - Soho After Dark 'London's '50s Modern Jazz Scene')

"Mambo Nothing" was written for the Claude Thornhill Orchestra by one of that bands tenor players Ralph Aldridge. The Kirchin arrangement is identical except taken at a slightly faster tempo...
The Kirchin Band - December 8th, 1954 (Decca DFE6237)
Murray Campbell, Frank Donlan, Stan Palmer, Norman Baron, Bobby Pratt* (tp), Brian Haden (as), Norman Hunt, John Xerri, (ts), George Robinson (bs), Johnny Patrick (p), Ronnie Seabrook (b), Basil Kirchin (d), Johnny Grant (vcl), Ivor Kirchin (dir).
Mambo Nothing/Minor Mambo*/Lover Come Back To Me (vcl JG)/Mother Goose Jumps (vcl JG).

The Kirchin Band - December 14th, 1954 (Parlophone R3968)
Murray Campbell, Frank Donlan, Stan Palmer, Norman Baron (tp), Brian Haden (as), Norman Hunt, John Xerri, (ts), George Robinson (bs), Johnny Patrick (p), Ronnie Seabrook (b), Basil Kirchin (d), Ginger Johnson (bongos), Danny Johnson (conga), Ivor Kirchin (dir).
Tango Mambo*/Panambo*.
(*Vocalion CD - The Kirchin Band - Gotta Be This Or That)

The Kirchin Band - January 18th, 1955 (Parlophone R3985)
Murray Campbell, Frank Donlan, Stan Palmer, Norman Baron, Bobby Pratt (tp), Brian Haden (as), Norman Hunt, John Xerri, (ts), George Robinson (bs), Johnny Patrick (p), Ronnie Seabrook (b), Basil Kirchin (d), Ivor Kirchin (dir).
Lester Leaps The Mambo*/Lanigiro*.
(*Vocalion CD - The Kirchin Band - Gotta Be This Or That)

The Kirchin Band - March 1st, 1955 (Parlophone R4018/R4010)
Trevor Lanigan, Frank Donlan, Stan Palmer, Norman Baron, Bobby Pratt (or Stan Reynolds) (tp), Brian Haden (as), Norman Hunt, John Xerri (ts), George Robinson (bs), Johnny Patrick (p), Ronnie Seabrook (b), Basil Kirchin (d), Ivor Kirchin (dir).
Bandbox*/Tweedle Dee*.
(*Vocalion CD - The Kirchin Band - Gotta Be This Or That)

March 14th, 1955 (Parlophone R4018/R4010)
Personnel as March 1st except add Johnny Grant (vcl).
(Oh Baby) Beedleumbo (vcl JG)*/Mambo Rock (vcl JG)*.
(*Vocalion CD - The Kirchin Band - Gotta Be This Or That)

Jean Campbell with the The Kirchin Band - April 25th, 1955 (Parlophone R4026)
Trevor Lanigan, Frank Donlan, Stan Palmer, Norman Baron, (tp), Brian Haden (as), Norman Hunt, Harry Perry (ts), George Robinson (bs), Johnny Patrick (p), Ronnie Seabrook (b), Basil Kirchin (d), Jean Cambell (vcl), + unaccredited vocal group.
Two Hearts, Two Kisses* (vcl JC)/Dance With Me Henry^ (vcl JC).
(*Vocalion CD - Five Fabulous Females)
(^Music For Pleasure CD - unknown title)

The Kirchin Band - May 16th, 1955 (Parlophone R4039)
Trevor Lanigan, Frank Donlan, Stan Palmer, Norman Baron (tp), Brian Haden (as), Alan Rowe, Harry Perry (ts), George Robinson (bs), Johnny Patrick (p), Ronnie Seabrook (b), Basil Kirchin (d), Johnny Grant (vcl), Ivor Kirchin (dir).
Flying Hickory*/Comb And Paper Blues (vcl JG).
(*Vocalion CD - The Kirchin Band - Gotta Be This Or That)

The Ivor and Basil Kirchin Band - August 30th, 1955 (Parlophone R4071)
Trevor Lanigan, Frank Donlan, Ian Hamer, George Bradley (tp), Brian Haden (as), Alan Rowe, Harry Perry (ts), George Robinson (bs), Johnny Patrick (p), Ashley Kozak (b), Basil Kirchin (d), Johnny Grant (vcl), Ivor Kirchin (dir).
Trumpet Blues And Cantabile (unissued)/Gotta Be This or That*/The Great Lie*.
(*Vocalion CD - The Kirchin Band - Gotta Be This Or That)

The Ivor and Basil Kirchin Band - December 1st, 1955 (Parlophone R4192/R4140 GEP8569 (both titles))
Trevor Lanigan, Frank Donlan, Norman Baron, George Bradley (tp), Brian Haden (as), Alan Rowe, Harry Perry (ts), George Robinson (bs), Johnny Patrick (p), Ashley Kozak (b), Basil Kirchin (d), Johnny Grant (vcl), Ivor Kirchin (dir).
Trumpet Blues And Cantabile*/Stoneage Mambo*.
(*Vocalion CD - The Kirchin Band - Gotta Be This Or That)

December 22nd, 1955 (Parlophone R4140 (Rock A Beatin' Boogie) GEP8569 (both titles))
Personnel as December 1st, except Keith Barr (ts) replaces Alan Rowe and Clyde Ray (vcl) added.
Rock A Beatin' Boogie*/Down Under*.
(*Vocalion CD - The Kirchin Band - Gotta Be This Or That)

The titles below were recorded at a session before an invited audience at EMI's Abbey Road studios. Only one title was issued at the time - "Big Deal" but other titles from this session reported to be issued on American Capitol although no details are known. One take of all titles have been included on the Vocalion CD issued in 2004 - after being unavailable for nearly fifty years since they were recorded...
May 3rd, 1956 (Parlophone R4192)
Personnel as December 22nd, 1955 except add Tony Crombie (d).
Sing, Sing, Sing* (2 takes)/Big City Blues* (3 takes)/Lover Man*/Big Deal* (2 takes)/Pour Quoi*/Taboo* (2 takes).
(*Vocalion CD - The Kirchin Band - Gotta Be This Or That)

The Ivor and Basil Kirchin Band - September 5th, 1956 (Parlophone R4222)
Trevor Lanigan, Frank Donlan, Len Moakes, Tony Grant (tp), Brian Haden (as), Pete Warner, Harry Perry (ts), George Robinson (bs), Stan Tracey (p), Ashley Kozak (b), Basil Kirchin (d), Ivor Kirchin (dir).
The Roller*/St. Louis Blues*.
(*Vocalion CD - The Kirchin Band - Gotta Be This Or That)

The records from this point on became more rock and roll and less jazz tinged, with less opportunity for individual solos. The band became a backing group for a number of rather ordinary singers and details have been included here for sake of completion...
The Ivor and Basil Kirchin Band - September 21st, 1956 (Parlophone R4237)
Trevor Lanigan, Dickie Hawdon, Norman Baron, Len Moakes (tp), Brian Haden (as), Pete Warner, Harry Perry (ts), George Robinson (bs), Stan Tracey (p,perc), Bill Sutcliffe (b), Basil Kirchin (d,perc), Toni Sharpe (vcl), Ivor Kirchin (dir).
Ambush/Rockin' And Rollin' Thru The Darktown Strutters Ball (vcl TS).

The Ivor and Basil Kirchin Band - December 18th, 1956 (Parlophone R4266/R4284*)
Trevor Lanigan, Dickie Hawdon, Norman Baron, Len Moakes (tp), Brian Haden (as,cl), Don Pashley (ts,cl), Harry Perry (ts), George Robinson (bs), Stan Tracey (p,acc,cel), Bill Sutcliffe (b), Basil Kirchin (d,perc), Shani Wallis (vcl), Ivor Kirchin (dir).
Rock Around The World (side 1)/Rock Around The World (side 2)/Jungle Fire Dance*.
(*Vocalion CD - The Kirchin Band - Gotta Be This Or That)

The Ivor and Basil Kirchin Band - January, 1957 (Parlophone R4284)
Trevor Lanigan, Dickie Hawdon, Pete Horley, Ron Simmonds (tp), Brian Haden (as), Don Pashley (ts,cl), Harry Perry (ts), George Robinson (bs), Stan Tracey (?perc), Kenny Napper (b), Basil Kirchin (d), Toni Sharpe (vcl), Ivor Kirchin (dir).
Calypso.

The Ivor and Basil Kirchin Band - January, 1957 (Parlophone R4302)
Trevor Lanigan, Les Condon, ?Pete Horley, unknown (tp), Mike Senn (as,cl), Don Pashley (ts,cl), Harry Perry (ts), George Robinson (bs), Stan Tracey (?p,vibes,?perc), Kenny Napper (b), Basil Kirchin (d), Toni Sharpe (vcl), Ivor Kirchin (dir).
The High Life (vcl TS)/Blues And Happy Times (vcl TS).

After a date in Great Yarmouth Sunday June 30th, 1957 the band broke up...


This page was last updated during March, 2015.
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