Chris Barber´s Jazz Band – Petite Fleur + Wild Cat Blues (1957)

FrontCover1Donald Christopher Barber OBE (17 April 1930 – 2 March 2021) was an English jazz musician, best known as a bandleader and trombonist. As well as scoring a UK top twenty trad jazz hit with “Petite Fleur” in 1959, he helped the careers of many musicians. These included the blues singer Ottilie Patterson, who was at one time his wife, and Lonnie Donegan, whose appearances with Barber triggered the skiffle craze of the mid-1950s and who had his first transatlantic hit, “Rock Island Line”, while with Barber’s band. He provided an audience for Donegan and, later, Alexis Korner, and sponsored African-American blues musicians to visit Britain, making Barber a significant figure in launching the British rhythm and blues and “beat boom” of the 1960s.

Chris Barber02

Barber was born in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, on 17 April 1930. His father, Donald Barber, was an insurance statistician who a few years later became secretary of the Socialist League, while his mother was a headmistress. His parents were left-leaning, his father having been taught by John Maynard Keynes, while his mother became, in Barber’s words, “the only socialist mayor of Canterbury”. Barber started learning the violin when he was seven years old. He was educated at Hanley Castle Grammar School, near Malvern, Worcestershire, to the age of 15, and started to develop an interest in jazz. After the end of the war, he attended St Paul’s School in London, and began visiting clubs to hear jazz groups. He then spent three years at the Guildhall School of Music, and started playing music with friends he met there, including Alexis Korner.

In 1950, Barber formed the New Orleans Jazz Band, a non-professional group of up to eight musicians, including Korner on guitar and Barber on double bass, to play both trad jazz and blues tunes. He had trained as an actuary, but decided to leave his job in an insurance office in 1951, and the following year became a professional musician.


Barber and clarinetist Monty Sunshine formed a band in late 1952, with trumpeter Pat Halcox among others, began playing in London clubs, and accepted an offer to play in Denmark in early 1953. Simultaneously, it was found that Halcox would be unable to travel but that Ken Colyer, who had been visiting New Orleans, was available. Colyer joined the band, which then took the name Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen. The group also included Donegan, Jim Bray (bass), Ron Bowden (drums) and Barber on trombone. In April 1953 the band made its debut in Copenhagen, Denmark.

There Chris Albertson recorded several sides for the new Danish Storyville label, including some featuring only Sunshine (clarinet), Donegan (banjo) and Barber (bass) as the Monty Sunshine Trio. The bands played Dixieland jazz, and later ragtime, swing, blues and R&B. Pat Halcox returned on trumpet in 1954 when Colyer moved on after musical and personal differences with both Barber and Donegan, and the band became “The Chris Barber Band”.

Chris Barber01

The band’s first recording session in 1954 produced the LP New Orleans Joys, and included “Rock Island Line”, performed by Donegan. When released as a single under Donegan’s name, it became a hit, launching Donegan’s solo career and the British skiffle boom.[10] The Barber band recorded several In Concert LPs during the 1950s, regarded by critic Richie Unterberger as “captur[ing] the early Barber band in its prime…. [T]here’s a certain crispness and liveliness to both the acoustics and the performances that make this in some ways preferable to their rather starchier studio recordings of the same era.”

In 1959, the band’s October 1956 recording of Sidney Bechet’s “Petite Fleur”, a clarinet solo by Monty Sunshine with Dick Smith on bass, Ron Bowden on drums and Dick Bishop on guitar, spent twenty-four weeks in the UK Singles Charts, making it to No. 3 and selling over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. After 1959, Barber toured the United States several times (where “Petite Fleur” charted at #5).

Chris Barber02

Barber was married four times. His second marriage, to Ottilie Patterson, lasted from 1959 until their divorce in 1983. He subsequently had two children during his third marriage.

Barber died on 2 March 2021. He was 90 and had suffered from dementia (wikipedia)

And are two songs from his very early days … two songs (taken from a German single) that are among his early classics …  and they are still pretty good … till today !

Chris Barber03

Chris Barber (trombone, bass on 02.)
Monty Sunshine (clarinet)
Dick Bishop (guitar on 01.)
Ron Bowden (drums on 01.)
Lonnie Donegan (banjo on 02.)
Dick Smith (bass on 01.)

The US edition:

01. A Petite Fleur (recorded 1956) (Little Flower) (Bechet) 2.44
02. Wild Cat Blues (recorded 1955) (Williams/Waller) 2.58



More from Chris Barber:

Chris Barber01

Dr. John With Chris Barber – Same (Marquee Club London; VHS-rip) (1983)

FrontCover1In 1983 the famous London music venue the Marquee celebrated its silver jubilee. One of the founders in 1958 (it was then in Oxford Street, now situated in Wardour Street) was Chris Barber; so it was fitting that he should do something special with his Jazz & Blues Band to mark the occasion. He therefore asked well known New Orleans musician Mac Rebennack, better known as Doctor John, to tour again with his band and to give two special concerts at the Marquee which would be recorded for future audio and video release; the recordings being made on the second night.

Julian Purser, co-compiler of the Chris Barber Discography, was there and reminisces: “When you enter the Marquee for the first time it is amazing, almost as though time has stood still for a couple of decades; it is cellar like and small; the dressing room is not much more than a broom cupboard. On the night of the 15th of April it was standing room only, and with the cameramen, technicians, cameras and cables there was hardly space for the very large crowd, and how the band managed to march around and through the audience was astonishing. Doctor John was a very tall, striking figure, with his carved walking stick and had a magnetic stage presence. He was happy to be either band pianist or solo vocalist and pianist.”


Both evenings were sold out, and fans of Doctor John and Chris Barber all enjoyed themselves listening to the feast of music. Alexis Korner was there on the second evening immersed in the music. It was an evening full of interesting and differing New Orleans Jazz and Blues. Listening again brings the memory of the evening very much back to life. (by Gerard Bielderman)

This 59 minute concert (listed as 55 minutes on the package) was recorded in 1983 Dr. John in his prime! And great camera work in this rare Marquee Club gig!

DrJohnChrisBarber01during the 25th anniversary of London’s famous Marquee Club. It features the NOLa legend Dr. John (Mac Rebennack) playing on stage with British band leader and trombonist Chris Barber and his “Jazz and Blues Band”. Dr. John starts it off with a solo and then the band gets a shot and then they combine efforts – with solos throughout). There are 10 numbers, with some running almost 1o minutes.

Mac Shows his Professor Longhair piano chops on “Mac’s Boogie Woogie” and his blues vocals on “Stranded”. Barber and the band shine on “New Orleans Memories (Medley) and “Little Liza Jane”. Of, course, it all culminates with “When the Saints Go Marching In”. Of particular mention is the camera work which has some amazingly sharp images of Dr. John’s fingers on the piano keys and Barber on Trombone.


As I said, this was 1983 and Dr. John was in his prime them, not relying on the “same old” that he kept doing in the 1990s. He was wearing no “hair jewelry” that he did in later years and you can tell that the older – and more experienced Barber was really into Dr. J’s playing that night. (Steve Ramm)


Dr. John (piano, vocals)
Chris Barber (trombone)
John Crocker (saxophone, clarinet)
Norman Emberson (drums)
Pat Halcox (trumpet)
Roger Hill (guitar)
Johnny McCallum (guitar, banjo)
Vic Pitt (bass)
Ian Wheeler (clarinet, saxophpne, harmonica)
The Chris Barber Brass Band on 10.:

Chris Barber (trombone)
Roy Maskell (trombone)
Pat Halcox (trumpet)
Teddy Fullick (trumpet)
John Crocker (saxophone)
Ian Wheeler (saxophone)
Dick Cook (clarinet)
Johnny McCallum (snare-drum)
Vic Pitt (tuba)
Norman Emberson (bass drum)

Alternates frontcover:

01. Stack-A-Lee (Lopez) 3.33
02. New Orleans Memories / Panorama (Barber/Tyers) 13.50
03. Right Place, Wrong Time (Rebennack) 4.46
04. You Lie Too Much (Rebennack) 4.54
05. Memories Of Smiley (Rebennack) 5.00
06. Blues Down In San Antone (Stranded) (Rebennack) 5.54
07 The Wicked Shall Cease (Rebennack) / When The Saints Go Marching In (Traditional) 7.46
08 Mac’s Boogie-Woogie (Rebennack) 1.58
09 Little Liza Jane (Rebennack) 4.07
10 When The Saints Go Marching In (Tradtional)
11. Marquee Club London; VHS-rip) 54.44




My copy of this old VHD-Tape was signed by Dr. John:


Chris Barber – Elite Syncopations (1960)

OriginalFrontCover1In his notes on the back of the LP cover, Chris Barber wrote: “Ragtime is a musical idiom that was popular between 1890 and 1920 (having no connotation whatsoever with a bandleader named Alexander!). It had a very great influence on jazz development but has been sadly neglected in recent years…. We had the honour of visiting New Orleans to give a concert in 1959, and we were fortunate to find a collection of original Ragtime sheet music at Bill Russell’s little shop in the French Quarter, thus enabling us at last to prepare and record some authentic Ragtime-style jazz. All the numbers on this LP except Georgia Cakewalk and St. George’s Rag come from this collection…. The descriptions of the tunes, the illustration and the panel underneath the title all taken from the original Stark Publishing Co. sheet music, as is the cover of Elite Syncopations”.

Right from their outset in 1954 — and before that if you want to count the embryo bands that led to the formation of Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen and that band’s evolution into Chris Barber’s Jazz Band — Chris and the band (but mainly Chris himself, I think) were innovators. Not only did they anticipate various trends but in many cases they set the trend by inventing it in the first place!


The first of the two best-known examples began with the band’s skiffle group, the recording and release of Rock Island Line, the enormous influence of Lonnie Donegan, and the explosion of skiffle as both a commercial form of music and an amateur craze in the late-1950s. The second was the band’s practice of inviting to Britain some of the most illustrious and influential names on the North American blues and gospel scenes: Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, and Muddy Waters with Otis Spann — all in the space of less than twelve months in 1957 and 1958. Several others followed, and together with the Barber Band they helped to foster the emergence of a vibrant British blues and rock scene.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, another mini-craze emerged in the pop music world: ragtime. This happened largely because of the use of the ragtime tune The Entertainer as the theme song in the Paul Newman/Robert Redford hit movie, The Sting. I think it’s fair to say that few patrons and fans were aware that the song had not been written for the movie but had been around for about 70 years!


I doubt that Chris would claim any part in stimulating this third trend, but there is no doubt that, once again, he and his band were “ahead of the curve”, not only by including rags in their repertoire since the Colyer days but also by recording, in 1960, a 12-inch LP, Elite Syncopations, devoted entirely to ragtime music. The story of how the music was discovered is told briefly by Chris in the quote from the original LP cover at the top of this page, and you can listen to a short sound clip of Chris introducing one of the tunes, The Peach, on a radio programme.

For the most part, the LP featured the standard six-piece line-up of the band as it was at the time, but even within the album itself there was innovation: three of the tunes consisted of a multi-tracked Barber trombone accompanied by just the rhythm section. (by


Chris Barber (trombone)
Graham Burbidge (drums)
Pat Halcox (trumpet)
Eddie Smith (banjo)
Dick Smith (bass)
Monty Sunshine (clarinet)

French front + backcover


01. Swipsy Cakewalk (Joplin/Marshall) 3.40
02. Bohemia Rag (Lamb) 2.45
03. Elite Syncopation (Joplin) 4.19
04. Cole Smoak (St. John) 4.38
05. St George’s Rag (Barber) 4.15
06. The Peach (Marshall) 3.15
07. The Favorite (Joplin) 4.02
08. Reindeer Rag (Lamb) 4.22
09. The Entertainer (Joplin) 3.51
10. Georgia Cakewalk (Mills) 4.20
11. Thriller Rag (Auferheide) 3.01
12. Whistlin’ Rufus (Mills) 3.01
13. Tuxedo Rag (Celestine) 2.18
14. Bugle Call Rag (Basie) 4.18



More from Chris Barber:


Van Morrison, Lonnie Donegan & Chris Barber – The Skiffle Sessions – Live In Belfast (2000)

FrontCover1The Skiffle Sessions – Live In Belfast 1998 is a live album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison, with Lonnie Donegan and Chris Barber, released in 2000 (see 2000 in music). Lonnie Donegan had played with the Chris Barber Jazz Band when he had his first hit with “Rock Island Line”/”John Henry” in 1955. He had been a childhood influence on Van Morrison, who had first performed in his own skiffle band with schoolmates when he was twelve years old in Belfast, Northern Ireland. This was Donegan’s first album in twenty years, reviving his career until his death in 2002.

Recorded on 20 and 21 November 1998 at Whitla Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland. In 1977, Morrison had discussed recording an album of skiffle music with Dr. John, “because I started off in a skiffle group and there must be millions of other musicians who also began their careers playing that kind of music…” In preparation for this recording, he went to see Donegan perform and invited him to dinner and after a second meeting they arranged to record the sessions live. Dr. John, who was playing in concert in the city’s Ulster Hall the same evening, arrived toward the end of the recording to play piano on the final few tracks. (by wikipedia)


Van Morrison probably chose to give a pair of skiffle concerts in November, 1998 not because he was nostalgic, but because he has genuine love for this music. At least, that’s the impression The Skiffle Sessions gives. It’s a cheerfully old-fashioned yet curiously fresh album. By skipping “Rock Island Line,” the style’s best-known tune, and emphasizing the music’s foundation in American folk, blues, and jazz, they wind up revitalizing skiffle while paying homage to it. Yes, this may be corny at times, yet it’s a clever, diverse record. They delve into blues, letting Barber have a Dixieland trombone solo on “Frankie and Johnny,” invite Dr. John to play some New Orleans on “Goin’ Home” and “Good Morning Blues,” haul out Jimmie Rodgers’ “Muleskinner Blues” and Leadbelly’s “Goodnight Irene,” paying tribute to both country and folk. Only “Don’t You Rock Me Daddio” fits the clichés of skiffle, and here it’s only one side of a rich, generous collection of roots music.


Some might say that this multifaceted approach to skiffle is revisionism, but it isn’t; skiffle itself was a hybrid, drawing from all sorts of American roots music but given an endearing twist by idealist British musicians, who loved the American myth as much as the music. The Skiffle Sessions captures this love of myth and music, while being a hell of a good listen. Morrison’s career has been idiosyncratic and unpredictable, but nothing has been quite as surprising as this. Really, there’s no reason why a skiffle album released in 2000 should be as irresistible as this, but Morrison, Donegan, and Barber bring such heart and love to this music that it’s hard not to be charmed. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)


Chris Barber (vocals, trombone, bass)
Lonnie Donegan (vocals, guitar)
Paul Henry (guitar)
Chris Hunt (bass)
Van Morrison (vocals, guitar)
Nick Payne (harmonica, saxophone, background vocals)
Nicky Scott (bass)
Big Jim Sullivan (guitar)
Alan “Sticky” Wicket (washboard, percussion)
Dr. John – piano on 03. + 04.)

Promo EP

Promo EP

01. It Takes A Worried Man (Traditional) 3.40
02. Lost John (Traditional) 3.33
03. Goin’ Home (Dvořák) 3.08
04. Good Morning Blues (Leadbelly/Lomax) 2.52
05. Outskirts Of Town (Razaf/Waller) 4.20
06. Don’t You Rock Me Daddy-O (Traditional) 1.51
07. Alabamy Bound (DeSylva/Green/Henderson) 2.22
08. Midnight Special (Traditional) 2.53
09. Dead Or Alive (Guthrie) 2.33
10. Frankie And Johnny (Traditional) 4.31
11. Goodnight Irene (Leadbelly/Lomax) 2.46
12. Railroad Bill (Traditional) 1.57
13. Muleskinner Blues (Rodgers/Vaughn) 3.06
14. The Ballad Of Jesse James (Traditional) 3.07
15. I Wanna Go Home (Traditional) 3.46



Chris Barber With John Lewis & Trummy Young – Swing Is Here (1978)

FrontCover1.jpgTaken from the original liner notes:

The only surprising thing about Chris Barber – according to BBC jazz presenter Peter Clayton – would be if he failed to surprise. “Surprise” puts mildly the initial reaction of many people when Eumig’s “Swing Is Here” package was first announced. After all, The MJQ, The Louis Armstrong All-Stars and “British trad Jazz” are still, in the minds of many so-called jazz fans as musically removed from each other as any three galaxies you may care to name.

Trummy Young does not live exactly a galaxy away from Britain – but he was persuaded away from his haven in Hawaii to join the tour – his first visit to Europe since touring with Louis in 1964. That he had turned down all previous offers of work in Europe is no small compliment to Chris and the Band. John Lewis has for many years been a confessed admirer of the Chris Barber Band – even before they recorded his “Golden Striker” in 1960. The suite that he composed specially for this tour was written with the sound of the original six-piece Chris Barber Band in mind. These days, of course, the Barber Band has evolved to an eight man line-up but the additional reed and string instruments have, naturally, been written into the suite.

In the year that Chris Barber was to form his first amateur band (1949) John Lewis was forming the MJQ and Trummy Young was embarking upon his marathon stint with the Louis Armstrong All-Stars. The backgrounds of John and Trummy in music prior to that time (Swing, be-bop, blues) make their coming together with the Chris Barber Band far less of a surprise than may at first sight appear to be the case.


The biggest surprise during the tour was to learn from John Lewis that when the package played at Southport we were just down the road from a venue where he had played his first ever gig in England: it was a Saturday night hop with a local dance band during the war! The pearls such as “Yes we have no Bananas” and “The Palais Glide” that John played in that Lancashire ballroom are NOT featured on this album! (Vic Gibbons)

The catalyst of Jazz and Jazz based popular music in Europe over the last fifteen years has been Chris Barber and his band. He has discovered that wonderful and rare experience of Jazz ensemble playing which can only be achieved by long time association (I know it from my years with the MJQ), and has also developed into one of the great and unique trombone soloists in Jazz. I enjoyed and appreciated the experience of performing with his great institution the Chris Barber Band. (John Lewis)

Recorded live during the “Swing Is Here” European tour


Chris Barber (trombone, vocals)
John Crocker (saxophone, clarinet)
Pat Halcox (trumpet)
Roger Hill (guitar)
Johnny McCallum (banjo, guitar)
Vic Pitt (bass)
Sammy Rimmington (saxophone, clarinet)
Pete York (drums)
John Lewis (piano)
Trummy Young (trombone, vocals)


01.  Home Folks (Lewis)
02. Time (Lewis)
03. Mood Indigo (Bigard/Ellington)
04.  ‘Tain’t What You Do (Oliver/Young)
05. Georgia (Carmichael)
06. Some Say You’ll Be Sorry (Armstrong)
07. Muskrat Ramble (Ory)
08. When The Saints Go Marchin’ In (Traditional)
09. Outro
10. Swing Is Here (part one)
11. Swing Is Here (part one)




Alternate frontcover

Chris Barber – Jazz Diaries feat. Mark Knopfler (2001)

FrontCover1This is a very nice radio show that Mark Knopfler did for Chris Barber in his radio show the Jazz Diaries. They recorded four songs exclusively for this show, two instrumentals and two with vocals.

Interesting to hear Mark Knopfler play with a jazz band and nice interview in this one hour show. Mark Knopfler joins at about half time in the show – the part about Mark Knopfler is from track 8 to track 18. Goin’ home is not the Mark Knopfler song, and it is played only by the Chris Barber Band, also recorded exclusively for this radio show. Perfect sound quality.

A more or less unknown Chris Barber album … with lots of personal memories of Chris Barber about his Career …

And … did you ever believe … that Chris Barber and Mark Knopfler … can play together ? …  YES … they can ! Listen !

Chris Barber (trombone)
John Crocker (reeds)
John Defferary (reeds)
Pat Halcox (trumpet)
Colin Miller (drums)
Vic Pitt (bass)
Paul Sealey (banjo & guitar)
John Slaughter (guitar)
Mark Knopfler (guitar, vocals)


01. Isle Of Capri (Kennedy/Grosz) 3.36 (2)
02. Talking 0.49
03. I can’t Be Satsfied (Morganfield) 2.39
04. Talking 1.08
05. Sweet Georgia Brown (Lewis) 2.42
06. Talking 0.48
07. Ory’s Creole Trombone (Ory) 3.03
08. Introduction 0.25
09. Blues Stay Away From Me (A.Delmore/R.Delmore/Raney/Glover) (1) 3.42
10. Talking 0.08
11. Sultans Of Swing (Knopfler) 1.58
12. Interview 4.01
13. Dallas Rag (Traditional) (1) 2.46
14. Interview 3.34
15. I’ll See You In My Dreams (Kahn/Jones) (1) 4.41
16. Interview 3.46
17. The Next Time I´m In Town (Knopfler) (1) 3.27
18. Talking 0.28
19. Goin’ Home (Dvorak) (2) 4.41
20. Talking 0.28
21. Better Git It In Your Soul (Mingus) 7.21

(1) Chris Barber Band  & Mark Knopfler – special recording for this Show
(2) Chris Barber Band – special recording for this Show



Donald Christopher “Chris” Barber (born 17 April 1930)
… he´s still alive and well … he´s  65 years on the road and he will play in September 2017 many gigs in Germany !

Chris Barber – Drat That Fratle Rat (1972)

OriginalFrontCover1None of the tracks on Drat That Fratle Rat used the complete band of the time, but instead
used selected members, augmented by guests — mostly well-known musicians on the Rock scene.
See the scan of the back cover, above, for exact details.

It’s also worth noting that three of the tunes were co-composed, and all but one produced, by
Steve Hammond, who joined the band in 1971, replacing Stu Morrison on banjo.

So, this a sort of jam session and a real exciting jam session and so this is a sort of jazz-rock session.

I guess most of all people forget, that Chris Barber was and is  very variable musician who was open for many different styles … and not only for the traditional jazz music.

Here´s he´s jamming with rock musicians like Rory Gallagher, Tony Ashton (with his friends Kim Gardner & Roy Dyke  = Ashton, Gardner & Dyke !)

And on drums we will here Colin Allen from Stone The Crows.

A hell of a session !

And the title track is of course a jazzy version of “Rollin´ And Tumblin´” featuring Rory Gallagher on slide-guitar.


Two different labels

Colin Allen (drums)
Tony Ashton (piano, vocals)
Chris Barber (trombone)
Paul Buckmaster (cello)
Graham Burbidge (drums)
John Crocker (saxophone)
Roy Dyke (drums)
Jack Flavelle (bass)
Rory Gallagher (guitar)
Kim Gardner (bass)
Brian Gullen (bassoon)
Pat Halcox (cornet, trumpet)
Mike Lieber (guitar)
Ann O’Dell (piano)
Martin Roke (piano, trombone)
John Slaughter (guitar)


01. Drat That Fratle Rat (Hammond/Barber) 4.00
02. The Falling Song (Ashton) 7.11
03. Fegalemic Pegaloomer (Hammond) 9.18
04. Earth Abides (Roke) 5.03
05. Sleepy Louie (Hammond/Barber) 4.52
06. O’Reilly (Buckmaster) 11.25


Chris Barbers Jazzband – Maryland, My Maryland + 2 (1955)

FrontCover1Donald Christopher ‘Chris’ Barber (born 17 April 1930) is a British jazz musician, best known as a bandleader and trombonist. As well as scoring a UK top twenty trad jazz hit, he helped the careers of many musicians, notably the blues singer Ottilie Patterson, who was at one time his wife, and vocalist/banjoist Lonnie Donegan, whose appearances with Barber triggered the skiffle craze of the mid-1950s and who had his first transatlantic hit, “Rock Island Line”, while with Chris Barber’s band. His providing an audience for Donegan and, later, Alexis Korner makes Barber a significant figure in the British rhythm and blues and “beat boom” of the 1960s.

Barber was born in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, the son of a statistician father and headmistress mother. He was educated at Hanley Castle Grammar School, Malvern, Worcestershire, to the age of 15, then St Paul’s School in London and the Guildhall School of Music.

Barber and Monty Sunshine (clarinet) formed a band in 1953, calling it Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen to capitalise on their trumpeter’s recent escapades in New Orleans: the group also included Donegan, Jim Bray (bass), Ron Bowden (drums) and Barber on trombone. The band played Dixieland jazz, and later ragtime, swing, blues and R&B. Pat Halcox took over on trumpet in 1954 when Colyer moved on after musical differences and the band became “The Chris Barber Band”. (by wikipedia)

And this is one of his early singles and the music sounds pretty good and this single is fun, fun, and fun only !


Chris Barber (trombone, vocals)
Jim Bray (bass)
Ron Bowden (drums)
Lonnie Donegan (banjo)
Pat Halcox (trumpet, vocals)
Monty Sunshine (clarinet)


01. Maryland, My Maryland (Traditional) 3.36
02. St. George’s Rag (Barber) 3.51
03. Wabash Blues (Ringle/Meinken) 6.04



Chris Barber Jazz & Blues Band (with specials guests) – Echoes Of Ellington (1977)

FrontCover1Taken from the original-liner notes:

One of the best qualities of Chris Barber, musician, is his imagination; an imagination which as easily moves from breathing life into a tired jazz standard to organising musical projects as ambitious as the ‘Echoes of Ellington’ tour of 1976. The tour brought together two seminal jazzmen – Russell Procope and Wild Bill Davis fusing neatly with Chris’s Jazz and Blues Band and the musical results are here: gloriously weathered Ellington jazz at its best.

It’s one of the accidents of jazz history that Russell Procope’s long and honourable service in Duke Ellington’s Orchestra occasionally hid him in the shadow of Johnny Hodges. An accident and an optical illusion, for as Procope told Stanley Dance in 1962 (The World of Duke Ellington, Macmillan, 1971), “We don’t have a first saxophone player or a second — we have things where anybody might be playing the lead.” But, no doubt because of Hodges’ opulent personality, the sound of Russell Procope, after 1946, became a musical delicacy rarer than it deserved to be. For by the time he joined John Kirby in 1938 Procope had matured from ‘a kind of child-wonder’ (in Duke Ellington’s words) into a master musician; a lythe elegant saxophonist whose tone and fluency recalled great contemporaries like Benny Carter and Hilton Jefferson, and whose contributions to the Kirby sextet would alone have qualified him for jazz immortality. It comes as something of a surprise therefore to learn that for Procope saxophone was, in theory, a second instrument, “I believe there’s so much more you can do on a clarinet than on a saxophone,” he told Dance in a statement that lends strange credance to an early and much criticised Rex Harris viewpoint. “You have so much more register, so much more tone. I believe that men with all the ideas Benny Carter and Coleman Hawkins had would have found much more room to express themselves on clarinet.” An interesting debating point – but for Procope alto-saxophone was always much more than a reluctant double. And these recordings are an invaluable document of his later work and inspiration.


Wild Bill Davis

“Russell Procope was a man of dignity and gentility,” says Duke Ellington. “What is more he became a conscientious all round musician.” The same description applies to his partner on these records ‘Wild’ Bill Davis, the first great populariser of jazz organ, who by the age of twenty-two had already won a degree in music at Wiley College, Texas. That was in 1938, and nine years later Davis became intrigued with the sound of the Hammond organ, ran into debt to buy one, and began the long battle to win acceptance for his instrument. “Some people still won’t accept it,” he told Dance, “and in the early days it was tough.”

It took fifteen years and two generations of organists – Bill Davis, his pupil Bill Doggett, Jimmy Smith, and a whole cluster of rock musicians – to slowly legitimise the instrument for most jazz ears. Duke Ellington was a big admirer of Wild Bill’s work on piano and Bill deputised for Duke many times with the Orchestra when Duke was indisposed. Bill Davis was featured on piano during the ‘Echoes of Ellington’ tour playing in an intriguing style that occasionally recalled his main instrument. “Most of the time on organ I play in chord form,” he told Dance, “like a band, reed, or brass section,” and the approach works too at the piano providing a chunky swinging style at times reminiscent of Milt Buckner.

Aside from the contribution of the guests on this set, mention must be made of the new dimension added to the Barber Band by the authoritative, driving and ever tasteful drumming of Peter York captured here for the first time on record with Chris’s Band.

RussellProcopeRecord One of this set – from the Barber Band, shows off all the hallmarks that have for so long kept the Jazz and Blues Band at the head of its field; creative soloing amid witty arrangements that carefully avoid the obvious. After a headlong Stevedore Stomp and ravishing Jeeps Blues, listen to Slapping Seventh Avenue for the best of Chris Barber, a dancing Ellington vignette featuring leathery Lawrence Brown-ish trombone against carefully-crafted background, full-toned pawky Halcox trumpet, and wittily in-context drums from Peter York. Procope and Wild Bill are added to the band for Mood Indigo, a lush four-part arrangement, showcasing Procope’s woody clarinet (his approach occasionally recalls Darnell Howard, and it’s an interesting coincidence, if no more, that both began as violinists and both play Albert system clarinets), and reflective Davis piano. Shout ’em Aunt Tillie, a jaunty tune calls up the ghosts of jungle-nights in Harlem, this time with Halcox’s spritely trumpet against Latin-American rhythm.

Record Two spotlights the Procope-Davis Quartet (with marvellous interplay from Flavelle and York) and from the yearningly sensual Warm Valley to a happy Second Line (introduced with true Ellingtonian sophistication by Wild Bill) this is a set of performances that repays close listening; two master-soloists in maturity playing the music of a lifetime’s experience with every track producing magical jazz.

ChrisBarberBand1976Record Three is a happy equal-terms collaboration between band and visitors. Squatty Roo with relaxed chase choruses gives John Crocker a chance to play some booty tenor and Procope’s sensitive Blues for Duke are followed by Take the A Train arranged by Alan Cohen with a cheerful vocal by Chris and climbing trombone to a full-stop coda. A standard Ellington introduction (really from ‘The Duke Steps Out’) heralds another impressive Cohen arrangement, It Don’t Mean a Thing which frames Procope’s alto against Barber, Halcox and Crocker’s and Just Squeeze Me to follow, with familiar On the Trail under-riff and thick front-line voicing swings firmly and gently. The Mooche, a beautiful recreation combining academic perfection with heat, highlights duets from Crocker and Procope, Halcox and Barber, the latter a masterly brass conversation in appropriate jungle mood. And to conclude, a carefree romp through The Jeep Is Jumpin’ propelled expertly by Peter York and Jackie Flavelle.

Beautiful music, and thank you Chris Barber.(by Digby Fairweather)

What a fantastic tribute album to Duke Ellington !

Recorded in concert at the St. Ivo Centre, St. Ives, Huntingdon, 3rd June, 1976.

AlternateFrontCoversAlternate frontcovers

Chris Barber (trombone, vocals)
John Crocker (saxophone, clarinet)
Jackie Flavelle (bass)
Pat Halcox (trumpet)
Johnny McCallum (guitar, banjo)
John Slaughter (guitar)
Peter York (drums)
Wild Bill Davis (piano)
Russell Procope (saxophone, clarinet)


LP 1:
01. Stevedore Stomp (Ellington/Mills) 2.54
02. Jeep’s Blues (Ellington/Hodges) 6.00
03. I’m Slapping Seventh Avenue With The Sole Of My Shoe (Ellington/Mills/Nemo) 7.53
04. Mood Indigo (Ellington/Mills/Bigard) 8.28
05. Shout ‘Em Aunt Tillie (Ellington) 8.47

LP 2:
06. In A Mellotone (Ellington) 4.45
07. Prelude To A Kiss (Ellington/Mills/Gordon) 4.51
08. Second Line (Ellington) 4.54
09. Perdido (Tizol/Drake/Lengsfelder) 3.54
10. Warm Valley (Ellington) 5.40
11. Caravan (Ellington/Tizol) 6.00
12. Sophisticated Lady (Ellington) 4.51

LP 3:
13. Squatty Roo (Hodges) 4.54
14. Blues For Duke (Procope) 6.27
15. Take That “A” Train (Strayhorn) 5.05
16. It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing (Ellington/Mills) 4.03
17. Just Squeeze Me (Ellington) 5.17
18. The Mooche (Ellington/Mills) 5.12
19. The Jeep Is Jumpin’ (Ellington/Hodges) 4.02



The Big Chris Barber Band – European Tour (2011)

FrontCover1This new CD covers almost a complete concert of the present Big Chris Barber Band (What’cha Gonna Do and All Blues are missing). However, not all the recordings are from a single concert: all the recordings were made in January and February 2011 in England, Scotland and Germany. Rebecca Evans, the band’s sound engineer, mixed and put together the best ones from several concerts for the CD, supported by the band’s banjo player Joe Farler, known as a technical wizard. The sound quality of the live recordings is great.

The CD features the new faces among the band:

– David Horniblow, clarinet & saxes, since March 2010.
– Jackie Flavelle, bass/bass guitar, who joined the band in August 2010, but was formerly
on tour with Chris Barber from 1967 to 1977.
– Amy Roberts, saxophone and clarinet – the outstanding young talent joined the forces
of the Big Chris Barber Band in January 2011.
– Gregor Beck, drums, started in April 2010 with the band.

TheBand03Regular listeners to the band will be happy to have a CD that covers the most recent line-up of the Big Chris Barber Band. Different from previous recordings is Chris’s singing on Precious Lord, Lead Me On and the current version of Ice Cream, with the singing of Peter Rudeforth and Chris Barber. And of course, I personally miss one musician: blues guitarist John Slaughter, who died much too young in 2010. His blues parts have been taken over by others, for example by Chris Barber on trombone on Black & Tan Fantasy. (by Andreas Wandfluh)

Chris Barber (trombone, bass)
Gregor Beck (drums)
Richard Exall (clarinet, saxophone)
Joe Farler (banjo, guitar)
Jackie Flavelle (bass)
Mike Henry (trumpet, cornet)
David Horniblow (clarinet, saxophone)
Bob Hunt (trombone, trumpet)
Ami Roberts (saxophone, clarinet)
Peter Rudeforth (trumpet, fluegelhorn)

01. Bourbon Street Parade (Barbarin) 5.27
02. Rent Party Blues (Ellington/Hodges) 3.19
03. Jungle Nights In Harlem (Ellington) 2.45
04. The Spell Of The Blues (Johnston/Dreyewr/Ruby) 2.57
05. Jubilee Stomp (Ellington) 3,28
06. Precious Lord, Lead Me On (Dorsey) 5.28
07. Wabash Blues (Ringle/Meinken) 6.33
08. Wild Cat Blues (Waller/Williams) 3,28
09. Merry-Go-Round (Ellington) 3.42
10. Black & Tan Fantasy/TheMooche (Ellington/Wesley) 8.19
11. C JamBlues (Ellington) 5.01
12. Corn Bread, Peas & Black Molasses (Terry/McGhee) 4.13
13. Hot & Bothered (Ellington) 2.38
14. Petite Fleur (Bechet) 3.28
15. When The Saints Go Marching In (Traditional) 11.06
16. Ice Cream (Johnson/King/Moll) 3.58