The Big Chris Barber Band with Special Guest Andy Fairweather Low: As We Like It

Recorded at Shepperton Studios, UK, on 30th August, 2007, and released in March, 2008. Blues Legacy DVD 5064X.

Although several Barber concerts have been re-issued on DVD in the last few years, this is the first new Chris Barber DVD in some time, the last being The Big Chris Barber Band, recorded at the Europa Park Hot Jazz Festival in May 2002, when John Crocker was still with the band. Of course there have been numerous personnel changes since then, but As We Like It provides us with an excellent record of the band's (almost) current line-up.

As always, Chris and Pat lead the front line on trombone and trumpet respectively, and they both share the occasional vocal. The rest of the front line consists of Richard Exall, Tony Carter, and Mike Snelling on reeds, Mike “Magic” Henry on trumpet, and the now-departed Bob Hunt on trombone. The rhythm section are all relatively new: Dave Green is on bass, John Sutton on drums, and Joe Farler on banjo and guitar. Andy Kuc, who occupied the banjo chair before Joe Farler joined, temporarily returns to the band to sit in for the then-ailing (and thankfully now recovered and returned) John Slaughter. Andy Fairweather Low, who toured with the band briefly a couple of years ago and who contributed to the most recent CD, Can't Stop Now, also joins in for two rousing songs towards the end of the concert.

As We Like It is the record of a special concert arranged at Shepperton Studios, the venerable site of so many British films, for release on the new Blues Legacy label, coinciding with the historic three-CD Barber-plus-blues-legends set of recordings from the 1950s and 1960s, Lost & Found, Vols. 1-3.

In part, the concert helps celebrate the history of the Barber Band, with re-creations of the original six-piece band ably executed by the new rhythm section, plus Mike Snelling on clarinet ("Precious Lord", "The Martinique", and "Wild Cat Blues"). "Petite Fleur" and some of the band's other classics are here too ("Watcha Gonna Do", "Cornbread, Peas and Black Molasses"), but much of the emphasis is on Ellington – wonderful Hunt-arranged recreations of tunes that have been in the Barber repertoire for decades ("Black & Tan Fantasy", "Rent Party Blues") or have been added comparatively recently ("Jubilee Stomp", "Hot & Bothered", "Merry-Go-Round", "C-Jam Blues").

The DVD is over an hour-and-three-quarters in length, and is a very well-produced memento of the band's latest incarnation. Although other versions of all the tracks have been published on CD fairly recently, As We Like It is a must for every Barber collection – thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.

Ed Jackson
Music: Rent Party Blues || C-Jam Blues || Watcha Gonna Do? || Wild Cat Blues

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