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Book: Kansas City Jazz

Chapter: The Clouds of Joy and the Lady Who Swung the Band

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.42627


Andy Kirk’s band grew out of Terrence Holder’s Dark Clouds of Joy, and it was the first Kansas City-based group to achieve national prominence. Known for their “sweet” sound, the most noteworthy musician to emerge from their ranks was Mary Lou Williams, who as her play became more experimental began to chafe at the tight rein that Kirk imposed on his musicians in order to maintain their popularity. She would eventually leave him despite his group’s success to explore more innovative musical territory with musicians such as Thelonious Monk that would develop into bebop.

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