All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Leroy Kirkland

Leroy Kirkland

Leroy Kirkland was an arranger, bandleader, guitarist and songwriter whose career spanned the eras of big band jazz, R&B, rock and roll and soul. Kirkland played guitar in southern jazz bands in the 1920s, and during the 1930s he worked as arranger and songwriter for Erskine Hawkins. He joined Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey in the 1940s and later in that decade began arranging music at Savoy Records in New York. He continued to arrange R&B artists for OKeh Records, Mercury Records and other companies. His work on 1963's #1 hit “Our Day Will Come” by Ruby and the Romantics is among his most successful arrangements.

He also directed “My Favorite Song” for Ella Fitzgerald on Decca Records (Decca #9-28433).

Two of his compositions became popular with jazz musicians: “Charleston Alley” (recorded by Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, Charlie Barnet, and others) and “Cloudburst” (recorded by Count Basie, The Pointer Sisters, and others).

Some of Kirkland's more successful collaborations were with Screamin' Jay Hawkins (”I Put a Spell on You, “Little Demon”,”Yellow Coat”, etc.) and Big Maybelle (Kirkland co-wrote her biggest hit, “Gabbin' Blues”). In 1956, Kirkland and his session band teamed up with 14-year-old singer Barbie Gaye to record an R&B song, “My Boy Lollypop”. Kirkland's arrangement of the song resulted in a sound that was new and original

Read more



Shop Amazon

All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.