Black British Swing

Michael Pointon three programmes about the little-known tradition of black and mixed British swing bands that prospered from as early as 1917 through to the 1950s.



This first programme recalls some of the early stars on the British scene, including Jamaican pianist Dan Kildare, Leslie Thompson and Dave Wilkins.

With contributions from Andy Simons, author of a study of the subject.


This programme recalls the network of after-hours clubs that developed in the 1930s, where bandleaders like Ken 'snake hips' Johnson plied their trade.

Johnson moved upmarket to a residency at London's Cafe de Paris, where he was killed on stage by a direct hit from a German bomb in 1941.

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The BBC Radio Rhythm Club provided broadcasting opportunities for integrated groups during the War.

After 1945, Leslie Jiver Hutchinson emerged as the leading UK-based black musician in the swing idiom.

But its days were numbered and it petered out with the downsized version of the genre represented by the Ray Ellington Quartet.