Ken Snakehips Johnson News

The National Sound Archives and Topic Records are producing a British swing CD.


Fans of the West Indian swing bandleader Ken Snakehips Johnson will be delighted to hear of a new CD due out early in 2001. The National Sound Archive is getting together with Topic Records to release a collection of black British swing recordings from the 1930ís and 40ís.

Ken Johnson sheet music
Sheet music for Stardust, broadcast but never recorded

What makes it all the more exciting is that the CD will include two Ken Johnson tracks never released before. Washington Squabble and Please Be Kind were recorded off air onto a double-sided acetate. It was Johnsonís habit to let a studio know when he was broadcasting, and ask them to record the session so he could give the acetates to the soloists as gifts. These two tracks were given to band member Leslie ĎJiverí Hutchinson, who then passed them on to his own post-Johnson's band number one fan, Peter W. G. Powell, who later donated them to The British Library, and only now will come to be publicly heard.

The CD will not include all 16 of Johnsonís recorded tracks, but it will have four privately recorded swing numbers from a quartet made up of members of The West Indian Orchestra. The intention is to release the CD in February 2001, about a month before the 60th anniversary of the bombing of the Cafť de Paris in which Johnson died on 8 March 1941. 

Many thanks for this information to Andrew Simons, Jazz Curator at The National Sound Archive.


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