Born in London, Ivor Kirchin was the leader, singer, drummer, conductor and business manager for The Kirchin Band, a popular big band formed in the 1930s. The Kirchin Band performed on the Mecca ballroom circuit during the Second World War. There was always plenty of work around the dance hall circuit for the band but there were no recordings until 1954, when George Martin of EMI spotted the talent and arranged the first recording date. The band billed themselves as 'The Biggest Little Band in the World' because their arrangements made them sound like a larger band than they were: four trumpets, four saxophones, piano, bass and drums. From the time he was 14 Ivor's son Basil took over the drum stool, and was often featured as a soloist. The band played fast and loud, with a varied repertoire that included standards, mambos and straight-ahead jazz.
In 1946 Basil left to work with Harry Roy, Teddy Foster, Jack Nathan and Ted Heath, while Ivor's band continued to play the Mecca circuit. In 1951 Basil returned to The Kirchin Band, now renamed the Ivor and Basil Kirchin Band, which made its debut on September 8 with a year-long residency at the Edinburgh Fountainbridge Palais, followed in November 1953 by an engagement at the Belfast Plaza Ballroom that extended into the spring of 1954. At the same time, the group also backed singer Ruby Murray during a 13-week series for Radio Luxembourg. They returned to London in 1954 for a summer residency and an appearance at the 1954 Jazz Jamboree. Unfortunately at this time a serious car accident sidelined Ivor, requiring Basil to take over band leadership and business management for the band, which he soon realized he enjoyed much less than the music. With his father's return to health, the band took on a brassier, more spontaneous sound which proved immensely popular. It was at this time that the band came to the attention of a young 28-year-old engineer for Parlophone Records named George Martin, who proceeded to launch a whole new recording career for the band. The band continued to enjoy success, with Billy Eckstein and Sarah Vaughan insisting that the Kirchin Band backed them when they toured Britain. Their shows would break attendance records and were featured in Melody Maker polls. By 1955 the band was now 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.
At the close of the decade music trends began to move away from big bands toward smaller jazz combos, and soon rock & roll appeared. The Kirchin Band made some attempts to stay relevant with novelty cha-cha and rock and roll numbers, but the end was clearly in sight. By 1967, Ivor Kirchin retired the band, and his son Basil went on to other musical pursuits.
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).
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).
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