View Book

Jazz Me Blues

ID: 1758 - View Book Page - Edit In OJS

Jazz trombonist Chris Barber formed his first band in the late 1940s, but it is the band that he formed in 1952 and has led continuously from 1954, after parting company with trumpeter Ken Colyer, that has established all kinds of records for success and longevity. His 54 year partnership with trumpeter Pat Halcox is the longest such association in jazz history. The Barber band achieved chart success on both sides of the Atlantic, with 'Petite Fleur', and from the middle to late 1950s it was the most popular music act in the UK. The band was one of the first British jazz groups to tour extensively in the United States. It has remained one of the most popular and widely imitated jazz bands in Europe for over half a century.

In this candid account of his life and music, Barber tells the story of his band, but also of his many other contributions to music in Britain. He and his guitarist and singer Lonnie Donegan began the skiffle movement. His band pioneered touring with authentic American blues and gospel musicians, including Big Bill Broonzy, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Muddy Waters, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. There were also tours with American jazz soloists, including John Lewis, Trummy Young, Ray Nance and many others. Barber and his colleague Harold Pendleton also launched the Marquee Club in London, which became a legendary jazz and rock venue, as well as becoming the launchpad for the Richmond and Reading Festivals. Barber's band has always been devoted to both jazz and blues, touring for many years with the charismatic Northern Irish singer Ottilie Patterson, (who became Barber's wife) and also including the blues guitarist John Slaughter in the line-up. In 2001, the band became the Big Chris Barber Band, allowing him to continue to play the New Orleans jazz he has always loved, but also to play the big band repertoire of musicians such as Duke Ellington. The Big Chris Barber Band continues to play a full schedule of concerts, confirming Barber's commitment to bringing live jazz to audiences in Britain and on the continent. The book covers the highs and lows of his career and that of the band, as well as his passionate commitment to the cause of spreading the word about jazz and blues to the widest possible public.

Published: Mar 1, 2014


Section Chapter Authors
Prelims - Acknowledgements
Acknowledgements Chris Barber, Alyn Shipton
Down Home Rag Chris Barber
New Orleans to London Chris Barber
Really the Blues Chris Barber
Petite Fleur Chris Barber
Harlem Bound Chris Barber
There’ll be Some Changes Made Chris Barber
Automobile Blues Chris Barber
All the Cats Join in Chris Barber
Long Time Travellin’ Chris Barber
Chris Barber on CD: A Selective Record List
Chris Barber on CD: A Selective Record List Chris Barber
Index Chris Barber
Plate Section
Plate section Chris Barber

Related Books


Nominated for the 2014 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research

It is very apparent to the critical observer that all roads lead to Chris, from the skiffle with Donegan period through Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny and Brownie and the electrifying Muddy Waters and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. He is the pivotal player in the game of British blues, jazz and skiffle whose blues offshoots strongly influenced the American scene also. Van Morrison

I have been listening to jazz for about 60 years and Chris Barber has been a big name in the music throughout that time. I first heard him play trad and his music helped get me into the music generally. He has led band after band, bringing on new players. The last time that I heard him was about two years ago, when he had certainly developed an interesting different swing group. He is the epitome of British jazz and this book explains why. Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke QC MP

Chris Barber is one of the most important post-World War II British musicians. His influence and inspiration, often unsung, in the fields of jazz and blues is long-lasting and widespread. He continues to educate and entertain mightily more than sixty years after he formed his first band. His autobiography is a captivating account of a fascinating life - a musical and social history viewed from behind his magnificent trombone. Tim Rice

Back in the 1950s very few people in this country had even heard of blues music. But there was one Englishman who knew what we were missing and decided to change that. In so doing he changed my life and probably yours, too, because he changed the course of popular music: the trombone legend, Chris Barber. Hugh Laurie

Delightful first-hand anecdotes ... an engaging portrait of a continuing life in jazz. Michael Steinman, Jazz Lives

[Jazz lovers] will find much to enjoy here. Jazz Journal