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Bebop Spoken There

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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Middlesbrough Jazz Weekender 2018: Big Chris Barber Band @ Middlesbrough Town Hall - October 20

Big Chris Barber Band: Chris Barber (trombone, vocals); Bob Hunt (trombone, trumpet, arrangements); Mike Henry (trumpet, cornet); Pete Rudeforth (trumpet, vocals); Nick White (saxophones, clarinet); Ian Killoran (saxophones, clarinet); Bert Brandsma (saxophones); Joe Farler (banjo, guitar); John Day (double bass); John Watson (drums)
(Review by Russell) 


The man was there at 'Newport' Middlesbrough. That was back in 1978. Down the years the trombone-playing band leader has given concerts in the town but this 'Jazz Weekender' engagement acknowledged that historic occasion forty years ago and signalled the prospect, the possibility, of an annual Middlesbrough jazz festival for the twenty-first century. 

Chris Barber, eighty-eight years young, took to the stage with his ten-piece band to play the music he's been playing for something like seven decades. The line-up has changed, likewise the programme with a significant element of Ellington and small group swing numbers. One thing hasn't changed - Chris Barber's obvious love of the music. 


From the opening Bourbon Street Parade to the closing When the Saints Go Marching in, Barber was in his element, hunched over his instrument, blowing good, taking his cue for his in-between-numbers announcements from loyal sidekick Bob Hunt. Rent Party BluesJubilee Stomp, Ellingtonia vied with N'Awlins' favourites in a packed set list. 

A little like a Duracell battery powered toy, Barber would, given the chance, keep going all night. Precious Lord, take my hand sang the band leader, the phrasing that of the American jazz and blues singers Barber so reveres. Goin' Home sang Barber. Ah, not quite, Mr Barber, the boys in the band weren't heading home, they were going to play more Duke - East St Louis Toodle-oo and Merry-Go-Round - then head to the bar for an interval drink! 

A bottle of Black Sheep or some other backstage tipple then the Big Chris Barber Band returned to the stage. Black and Tan Fantasy featured Barber, C Jam Blues won huge applause, the band leader led a chorus of Cornbread, Peas and Black Molasses - a tasty selection. 

Barber's legendary mumbled announcements were reassuringly intact: Thank you, mmm, now, mmm, the Harlem Hamfats, yes, mmm, Kansas Joe, Papa Charlie, mmm, good, What You Gonna Do? Thankfully, Barber's band knew the running order and so it was - What You Gonna Do? Ah, the band...first class, that's the band. Fellow 'bone man Bob Hunt takes care of the arrangements and the seven-strong frontline - long-serving Mike Henry alongside Pete Rudeforth blew some great trumpet, and to their right the reedsmen, Dutchman Bert Brandsma, Scotsman Ian Killoran and on the end of the line, multi-reeds wizard Nick White - took it in turn to bask in the limelight. The rhythm section boys had their moments too - Joe Farler strumming banjo then guitar, string bass man John Day (ex Acker Bilk) and the immaculate (musically speaking) John Watson (drums). 

For those who hadn't heard the Big Chris Barber Band for a while, it perhaps came as a surprise to hear All Blues. One thing is for sure, Miles wouldn't have been other than complimentary. Rockin' in Rhythm brought the show to a close save for The Saints and an inevitable, and fully deserved, encore.     

Russell 

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