The Kit McClure Band is as dedicated to keeping a dance floor full as to providing a great show in the concert hall. The band’s music ranges from transcriptions of Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington’s popular works to the soulful grooves of Aretha Franklin, James Brown, and Beyoncé. As a dance orchestra, the Kit McClure Band has enlivened ballrooms across the USA, including the inaugural ball of President Clinton.
The Kit McClure Band made its debut at the Ritz (now Webster Hall) in New York City in the 1960’s. The band became a popular fixture in the New York nightclub scene and was soon offered a tour with the great Cab Calloway. This led to recording industry interest from Island Records, and Kit and her band were engaged to prepare a show with the rock star Robert Palmer. Palmer featured Kit on saxophone in his band and featured the Kit McClure Band within his show. This show played sold-out houses at Radio City Music Hall, Garden State Arts Center, and similar venues across the Northeast. Eight tours of Japan ensued, and in between, Kit found time to produce the Kit McClure Band’s debut recording, Some Like it Hot, on Red Hot Records. The success of Some Like it Hot brought the attention of jazz legend Teo Macero, who produced the Kit McClure Band’s second release, Burning in 1996. McClure and her band toured Europe five times in support of these two recordings and settled into a steady calendar of US dates.
Most recently, the band has been featured at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and at the JVC Jazz Festival in New York City.
The Kit McClure Band is a proud recipient of the Excellence in Small Business Award 2005 from the City of New York, Office of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Kit McClure Band won this award after more than 20 years of providing great music to audiences from New York City to Japan to Europe.
Kit McClure, saxophonist, activist, and leader of the longest-running all-women big band in history, was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1951. Raised in Little Falls, New Jersey, she attended public school and began working with local bands as a trombone player at the age of 16. In 1969, she was accepted at Yale University as part of the first undergraduate class of women at Yale. While attending Yale, she formed an all-women jazz-rock band while continuing to work as a freelance trombonist and saxophonist. Upon graduating from Yale in 1975, she moved to New York City to attend Manhattan School of Music, working her way through school teaching music and performing.
Her freelance credits include tours in the USA, Japan, and Europe with R&B legends Sam and Dave, the Broadway show Dancin’, as well as featured soloist with the Barry White Orchestra.
Although she was able to find meaningful work, she felt the effects of gender discrimination on women musicians, especially instrumentalists. She developed the passion to start an all-women big band, which would give herself and other women an opportunity to steadily express their talents. Her vision became a reality with her band’s debut at the Ritz in 1982.