Jazz Me Blues

Jazz Me Blues : The Autobiography of Chris Barber

By (author) Chris Barber , Edited by Alyn Shipton

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Jazz trombonist Chris Barber formed his first band in the late 1940s, but it is the band that he has led from 1954, after parting company with trumpeter Ken Colyer, that has established all kinds of records for success and longevity. The 54 year partnership with trumpeter Pat Halcox is the longest continuous 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.

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  • Hardback | 196 pages
  • 164 x 236 x 16mm | 479.99g
  • 15 Mar 2014
  • Equinox Publishing Ltd
  • London
  • English
  • 30 black and white photos
  • 1845530888
  • 9781845530884
  • 272,673

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Author Information

Chris Barber is a jazz trombonist and leader of the Barber band formed in 1954. The band, one of the first British jazz groups to tour extensively in the United States, 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. It has remained one of the most widely imitated jazz bands in Europe for over half a century and has established all kinds of records for success and longevity.

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Review quote

"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 "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

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