Mike Henry, Trumpet and cornet

Readers who regularly go to Chris Barber concerts will already have heard and seen Mike playing alongside Pat. Till I joined a tour with the band in Switzerland earlier this year, I did not know very much about him, and wondered where he gained the experience he so obviously brings to his wonderful playing.

Mike was born in Bury, Lancs, and at 11 years of age attended the Junior Royal College of Music in Manchester; after this he gained a scholarship to Chetham's School of Music in the same city. At 18 he gained a place at the Guildhall School of Music in London (following in Chris' footsteps!). His teachers included Trevor Green (Scottish Opera), Henry Hall (Halle Orchestra) and others equally talented and well known.

While at the Guildhall he led the Brass Ensemble conducted by Denis Wick, and also played 1st trumpet in The Symphony Orchestra. During his second year he was chosen as one of 6 musicians to play in the Juenesses Musicals World Orchestra at the 1976 Olympic Games in Canada, touring with them for a month afterwards. The same year he also toured Italy with a 20-piece Brass Ensemble with whom he also travelled to Korea and Japan the following year.

After College his first work was freelancing with the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra. Further freelance work led eventually to Mike joining the Pasadena Roof Orchestra in 1978. The Pasadenas toured extensively throughout Europe and the UK, with recording, radio and TV work added, it was a busy life. He also did the occasional date with the LSO and session work. Mike was a full-time member of the PRO for 12 years, and since 1990 has been freelancing, basing himself in London, working, in the main, in the jazz field, specialising in the styles of the music from the 1920's-1940's.

Bands and Orchestras he has been involved with, besides the Pasadenas, have been Keith Nichols (Cotton Club Orchestra and Band), The Grahamaphones, Red Hot and Blue Orchestra, Echoes of Ellington, Harry Strutter's Hot Rhythm, Charleston Chasers, Bob Hunt Ellington Orchestra, Midnite Follies, and many other groups. Recently he accompanied Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music on his tours of Europe. He has also played with smaller jazz groups such as Acker Bilk: Guiness Jazz Band (23 years) with whom he has played 20 Cork Festivals, and toured extensively in the UK and Europe. His work with all these bands and groups has included radio, TV, film soundtracks and albums, and he is active as a session musician for CBS, EMI at Abbey Road, CTS and others.

Mike's recorded output includes Brass Band albums in the 1960's, Orchestral in the 70's; and from 1978 albums (both LP's and CD's) with the Pasadenas, Keith Nichols Groups; Guiness Jazz Band CD's, The Bob Hunt Orchestra, and recently Chris Barber and Bob Hunt. On 27 November, 2001 at the 100 Club, Oxford Street, Mike was one of three musicians joining the renamed Big Chris Barber Band as a full-time member.

As can be gathered, Mike has had a varied, interesting and exacting career to date, and his joining Pat in the front line brings the Barber Band back full circle to the 1950 Chris Barber New Orleans Jazz Band which had in the front line cornet and trumpet. Anyone who has heard the Chris Barber Band with the Ellingtonians will know what to expect, but if you have not yet heard them (try the Chris Barber/Bob Hunt Timeless album) try to do so as soon as possible. A front line with two trumpets, two trombones and three reeds is able to offer a variety of sounds and styles of Jazz.

Julian Purser, 2004

Visit Mike's website at MySpace where you can hear some of his recordings, view photographs, and leave messages, and his website at www.mghenry.co.uk.

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