07 October 2019 (released)
07 October 2019
Anyone who professes to know about British Blues or Jazz should know the name of Chris Barber.
The eminence grise of the British scene since 1949, either with his own Jazz band or his skiffle group of through the many, many Blues stars he brought to the UK to play (often when they couldn’t earn a living in their homeland) or through his mentorship of the best of British musicians for 70 years.
My most recent memory of seeing him live was at London’s 100 Club in company with Ronnie Wood, Mick Taylor, Dick Taylor and Stephen Dale Petit, as lively as ever and with a twinkle in his eye that belied his years in the game.
This album is a celebration of his music for 70 years leading up to his retirement (although I can’t quite believe he will actually hang up his trombone) and features collaborations with an incredible list of musicians – it really does read like a veritable who’s who.
If I were to just pick out the highlights this review would be far longer than anything I normally post but, for me, hearing him play with the likes of Ottilie Patterson or Sonny Terry is worth the time spent with this album.
There are a lot of collaborations here that I’ve heard before – playing with Eric Clapton Henry Spinetti, Dave Bronze and Chris Stainton, his playing with the Muddy Waters Blues Band or with Paul Jones – but there are a lot of surprises here; playing with Rory Gallagher on ‘Can’t Be Satisfied’ or with Van Morrison on ‘Goin’ Home’ and with Van Morrison and Dr John on ‘Oh Didn’t He Ramble’, a few numbers with Mark Knopfler.
The track that surprised me the most was a gorgeous ‘Goin’ Up The River’ with Jeff Healey and his Jazz Wizards.
Over 30 tracks and a superb booklet that describes in far better detail than I could how the tracks came about and who is playing what.
A package that every music lover should hold close to their heart, a celebration of a great man and musician.