In Barber's Chair
Chris Barber' Jazz Band, featuring Monty Sunshine, Pat Halcox, Ian Wheeler, and Chris Barber
Lake Records LACD 185,
Released October, 2003
Although it was always a cooperative and ensemble outfit, the Barber Band of the 1950s and 1960s comprised six outstanding musicians -- seven if you count Ottilie Patterson. The band's records included many fine solos, not only by the front line of Pat Halcox, Monty Sunshine or Ian Wheeler, and Chris Barber, but also, on occasion, by the members of the rhythm section. Perhaps in recognition of the growing fame of the individual band members, and the difficulty of finding them adequate feature space on the normal run of recordings, a series of EP (extended play) 45-RPM records was released on the UK Columbia label between 1959 and 1963.
The five records, which together numbered twenty tracks, began with Ottilie, continued with Monty, and then carried on with Pat. Fourth came Introducing Ian, a vehicle to showcase the talents of the new reedman after he replaced Monty Sunshine. I've always thought it a marker of his unselfishness as a bandleader that Chris himself not only did not play on many of these tracks, but also stepped aside until the fifth and last in the series, In Barber's Chair, for his own feature. It's a pity that none of the rhythm section (Eddie Smith, Dick Smith, and Graham Burbidge) enjoyed his own moment in the spotlight, but each of them shines through on these tracks, both individually and together. Surely this was the best rhythm section in British traditional jazz at the time!
In Barber's Chair is the first of a reissue series from Lake Records, The Record Supervision Collection, comprised of recordings from Denis Preston's Lansdowne Jazz Series of the 1950s and 1960s. The CD contains twenty tracks, 16 of them from four of the EPs mentioned above: Monty, Pat, Introducing Ian, and In Barber's Chair. Many of these tracks have not previously been available on CD, and the sound re-mastering is superb. As a bonus, producer Paul Adams has written some entertaining and informative liner notes for the CD, which should be an indispensable part of every Barber fan's collection. See the back of the jewel box, below, for a list of track titles.
|Collective Personnel: Chris Barber (trombone), Pat Halcox (trumpet), Monty Sunshine (clarinet, soprano sax), Ian Wheeler (clarinet, alto sax), Eddie Smith (banjo, guitar), Dick Smith (bass), Graham Burbidge (drums), Ottilie Patterson (vocals).