The Sound of Muzak in the ’40s

John Kirby

John Kirby

I have a few more blogs coming that will continue to uncover Muzak’s trendsetting customer research approach of the 1940s.  But you know me by now.  We’ve gotta hear some more music from our archives first!

As owner Bill Benton was firing up the marketing machine, Ben Selvin continued his genius in the Muzak APM studios, recording the industry’s best.  Many of us think the recordings he captured through this decade are among our finest.  The singers were amazing; Rosemary Clooney, The Deep River Boys, a young Vic Damone, the Galli Sisters, and the list goes on.  The bands, arrangements and productions just kept getting better with each session.

So, which track should we pick to get us started in the ‘40s?  Remember, these tracks have never been released to the public and haven’t been heard in over 50 years!

I literally closed my eyes and randomly picked a track.  One of approximately 7,500 we recorded in the 1940s.

…and the winner is (drum roll please) “Desert Night” by jazz band leader and double-bassists, John Kirby.   Having played with the likes of Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie and Buster Bailey, John Kirby was an extremely popular band leader in the ‘30s and ‘40s.  Listen to the musicianship and solos as John Kirby’s 6 piece group nailed this song in just one take back on August 18, 1944 at the Muzak studio in Manhattan.  Not a bad random pick if I do say so myself.

Contributed by Bruce McKagan, Muzak Archives Director

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Tagged as: 40s music, Bruce McKagan, john Kirby, Muzak, Muzak Archives


  1. Thanks SO much for sharing that!! :) For all the music that you own, the stuff like this that you had composed and played for you years and years ago, have you considered releasing a compilation CD? It would be SO cool.



  2. Stay tuned Jesse. You never know what might happen. In the meantime, you can always watch for Bruce’s new posts!

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