Micky Ashman: Bass
Notes by Ed Jackson
Micky Ashman first played with Chris Barber in one of the latter’s amateur bands in the early 1950s. This band recorded four songs, on the 26th of October, 1951. As an example we have included a clip from Misty Morning.
By 1955, like Chris, Micky had turned professional and was working in Humphrey Lyttelton’s band. In 1956, however, Jim Bray left the Barber band and moved over to Humph’s organization, while in turn Micky joined Chris Barber.
Micky played on just two LP records with Chris Barber’s Jazz Band. The first was a 12-inch LP entitled Echoes Of Harlem, and the second a 10-inch LP, Volume 2 in the Chris Barber Plays series. Both of these records demonstrate the growing maturity and adventurousness of the Barber band, and Micky’s bass playing is shown to great advantage. Musical clips from these records include Sweet Savannah Sue, Whistling Rufus, and One Sweet Letter From You.
On a personal note, I met Micky briefly in 1963 or thereabouts, and he spoke of his recordings with Chris Barber with evident pride, going so far as to claim that Echoes Of Harlem was “one of the greatest jazz records ever made in Britain.”
Micky Ashman left the Barber band following the departure of Lonnie Donegan in 1956, joining Lonnie in what came to be one of the most popular musical acts in the UK in the late 1950s. By the height of the “Trad Boom” in the early 1960s, he was leading his own outfit, Micky Ashman’s Ragtime Jazzmen, which never achieved the popularity of Ball, Barber and Bilk or the other front- and second-line bands, although a few recordings were made. We include one of these here, Tin Roof Blues.
Micky once again joined Chris Barber’s Jazz Band in 1966, replacing the man who had replaced him ten years earlier, Dick Smith. In turn he was replaced in 1967 by Jackie Flavelle.
Go to Chris Barber's Jazz Band in East Germany -- Berlin 1965 to see a short video of the Barber Band in Berlin in 1965, with Micky Ashman on bass.