Andy Kirk And His Clouds Of Joy
Effective period / Period of releases: 1931 - 1993
Members: Mary Lou Williams, Jimmy Cleveland, Don Byas, Ray Copeland, Milt Hinton, Osie Johnson, Al Cohn, Andy Kirk, Bernie Glow, Freddie Green, Frank Rehak, Conte Candoli, Al Epstein, Joe Newman, Harold Baker, Sam Marowitz, Kenny Kersey, Allen Durham, Ted Donnelly, Clarence Trice, Pha Terrell, Harry Lawson, Earl Thompson, Dick Wilson, Earl Miller, John Harrington, Claude Williams, Booker Collins, Ben Thigpen, Hal McKusick, Ed Wasserman, Rudy Powell, Billy Massey, Taswell Baird, Thomas Mitchell, Floyd Smith (2), Chauncey Welsch, John Williams (14), Art Capehart, Henry Wells, Edward Inge, Gene Prince, Paul King (4), Reuben Phillips, Ted Robinson (2), Ted Brinson (2), Ben Smith (9), Edward McNeil, William Dirvin, Lawrence Freeman, Milton RobinsonJazz orchestra directed by Andy Kirk (1898-1992), who took over Terrence Holder's Dark Clouds of Joy in 1929 and turned the band into a successful touring and recording unit, very largely dependent on the magnificent writing and arranging of Mary Lou Williams.
Though he was often out front for photo opportunities, Andy Kirk ran the Clouds of Joy strictly from the back row. The limelight was usually left to singer June Richmond or vocalist/conductor Pha Terrell; the best of the arrangements were done by Mary Lou Williams, who left the band in 1942; as a bass saxophonist, Kirk wasn't called on to take a solo. All the same, he turned the Clouds of Joy into one of the most inventive swing bands. His disposition was sunny and practical and he was a competent organizer (who in later life ran a Harlem hotel, the legendary Theresa, and organized a Musicians' Union local in New York City).