Of the more the thirty distinct configurations of the Chris Barber Band, from the original six-piece Chris Barber’s Jazz Band of 1954 to the eleven-man Big Chris Barber Band of today, the one that lasted longest without personnel changes was the 1979-1986 version of Chris Barber’s Jazz and Blues Band. Shortly before 1979, clarinettist Sammy Rimington had come on board to expand the band to an eight-man unit, and electric guitarist Roger Hill had recently replaced John Slaughter.

The 1979-1986 band began when Sammy left, to be replaced by the returning Ian Wheeler, who had previously been a member of the band from 1961 to 1967. This happened at the same time as drummer Norman Emberson took over Pete York’s spot in the rhythm section, the rest of which consisted of Roger Hill, comparative newcomer Vic Pitt on bass (he joined in 1977 and was to stay until 2007), and Johnny McCallum on banjo and guitar, who was by then a veteran of six years.

In addition to Ian, the rest of the front line consisted of John Crocker on reeds (John having replaced Ian more than a decade before), and, of course, Chris and Pat on trombone (and occasionally string bass) and trumpet respectively.

Highlights of this period of the Chris Barber Band are almost too numerous to mention. The musical output was continuous and prolific: almost 20 LP albums, CDs, and videos (later available as DVDs), the first digital recordings (Concert ‘80, Volumes 1 and 2), and a unique direct-to-disc LP recording (Creole Love Call). It was also during this time that the band began a long-term, if intermittent, collaboration with the New Orleans master of the blues piano, Mac Rebbenack (Dr. John).

This page celebrates the 1979-86 Chris Barber Jazz and Blues Band in pictures, covers of recordings, and short excerpts from some of the hundreds of tracks recorded at the time.

The Band
Back: John Crocker, Norman Emberson
Front: Roger Hill, Ian Wheeler, Chris Barber, Pat Halcox, Vic Pitt, Johnny McCallum
Back: Pat Halcox, Norman Emberson, Johhny McCallum, Roger Hill, Vic Pitt
Front: Ian Wheeler, Chris Barber, John Crocker
Members of the Band
Each of the following photographs was scanned from the 1986 concert tour booklet shown at the lower right.
Chris Barber Pat Halcox John Crocker
Ian Wheeler Johnny McCallum Roger Hill
Vic Pitt Norman Emberson  
The Recordings
This lineup of the Chris Barber Jazz and Blues Band recorded several outstanding LP albums, almost all of which have been re-issued on compact discs. There were also some early CD recordings, plus several videos, with DVD reissues more recently.
The Music

Barbican Blues, clip 1, from the LP, Barbican Blues
Barbican Blues, clip 2, from the LP, Barbican Blues
Decatur Drive, from the LP, Take Me Back To New Orleans
Goin' Up The River, from the LP, Music From The Land Of Dreams
Music From The Land Of Dreams, from the LP, Music From The Land Of Dreams
New Orleans, from the LP, Take Me Back To New Orleans
Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out, clip 1, from the LP, Live In '85
Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out, clip 2, from the LP, Live In '85
Sweet Sue, from the LP, Come Friday
Wabash Blues, from the CD, Concert '80, Volume 1
Wabash Blues, from the LP, Can't We Get Together
Who's Blues, from the CD, Who's Blues
Wild Cat Blues, from the LP, Barbican Blues

Chris Barber Jazz & Blues Band page