Friday, 7 March 2008

Chris Barber

Joe writes: My dad tells me that Chris Barber is 80 this year [correction - he's not - see comment below] and just appeared on Later with Jools Holland.

The Chris Barber variety of trad or mainstream jazz is the kind of jazz that's closest to my heart. Generally, the band start by playing the melody, led by the trumpet. Then each player takes a solo in turn. Then they all come back in and play the melody again. The end. Magic.

There's a scene in a film that perfectly captures how exciting this music can be (or seemed to do so twelve years ago when I saw it). It's the 1959 film of John Osborne's iconic play Look Back In Anger. Richard Burton plays Jimmy, the archetypal angry young man. At the start of the film he walks down into a basement where a jazz band are playing (Chris Barber's). He picks up the trumpet and plays with them. It's dangerous, exciting, poetic - rock 'n' roll, you might say.

Climax Rag is the opening track from a legendary concert album, Barber In Berlin. Joe Meek was one of the recording engineers.

Duke Ellington's Creole Love Call is one of my favourite downtempo jazz standards. This version was recorded at the London Palladium. The best moment is at 6.49 when the band comes in with the melody again after a wonderful muted trumpet solo.

Both tracks available on an excellent double CD.

Neither are on iTunes but plenty of other Chris Barber tracks are.

Chris Barber's Jazz Band - Climax Rag (Live at Deutschland Halle, Berlin, 23rd May 1959)

Chris Barber's Jazz Band - Creole Love Call (Live at the London Palladium, 31st March 1961)


Ed Jackson said...

Hi. I just read your post about Chris Barber. I'm Chris's webmaster, and I thought you might be interested in his website at Incidentally, Chris will be 78 on April 17.

Ed Jackson
Edmonton, Alberta

The World's Greatest Music said...

Thanks Ed

Anonymous said...

These two tracks, as well as showing what a great band this is, highlight the exceptional contribution of Pat Halcox on trumpet - driving and inventive on 'Climax Rag', memorably soulful on 'Creole Love Call'. Barber and Halcox have some claim to being the longest continuous partnership in jazz history.