Albert "Bertie" King (1912 – 1981) was a Jamaican
jazz and mento musician who was a saxophonist.
King was born in Panama,
and raised in Kingston, where he
attended Alpha Boys' School; there he was taught by Sister Mary Ignatius Davis,
a remarkable woman who nurtured the talents of many of the leading Jamaican
musicians of the era.
During the 1930s he led his own band, Bertie King and his
Rhythm Aces, described at the time as "Jamaica's
Foremost Dance Orchestra". In 1936 he left for England,
sailing on the same ship as his friend Jiver Hutchinson. In London
he joined Ken Snakehips Johnson's West Indian Dance Band, and later played with
Leslie Hutchinson's band. He also worked with visiting American musicians
including Benny Carter, George Shearing and Coleman Hawkins. In 1937 he
recorded four sides in the Netherlands
with Benny Carter, and in 1938 he recorded with Django Reinhardt in Paris.
In 1939 he joined the Royal Navy. He left the Navy in 1943 and formed his own
band, also working and recording with Nat Gonella.
King returned to Jamaica
in 1951, where he started his own band, known as the Casa Blanca Orchestra,
playing in the mento style. Since there were no Jamaican record labels at this
time, he arranged for his recordings to be pressed in a plant in Lewisham,
England, owned by Decca
Records. He returned a number of times to England,
working and recording with Kenny Baker, George Chisholm, Chris Barber, Kenny
Graham and Humphrey Lyttelton, and also toured in Asia
and Africa with his own band. During this period he also
played and recorded in London with
some of the leading Trinidadian calypsonians. He was noted for his impassive
demeanour on stage, which belied an expressive playing style.
King led the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation's house band
in the 1950s; his sidemen included Ernest Ranglin and Tommy Mowatt. He recorded
extensively with this outfit. In 1965 he moved to the USA.
His last known public performance was at Jamaican Independence Day celebrations
in New York in 1967. He died in
the USA in