No short cuts for Barber

Trombonist Chris Barber, now 86, marks the centenary of jazz with a special concert at Cadogan Hall in September and numerous dates across the UK and Europe

Trombonist Chris Barber, active in jazz for more than 68 of the reputed 100 years of jazz, celebrates that centenary this year, at the age of 86, with an extensive tour by the Big Chris Barber Band. A frequent visitor to the pages of Jazz Journal since the late 50s, as our overflowing photo files attest, Chris since those days has championed blues and classic jazz, facilitating early UK appearances by such American blues luminaries as Muddy Waters, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee and Big Bill Broonzy.

The effect of that work was described by closet bluesman Hugh Laurie in a BBC One Show interview with Barber around 2013: “Back in the 1950s, very few people had even heard of blues music. There was one Englishman who knew what we were missing and decided to change that. In so doing, he changed my life, and probably yours too, because he changed the course of popular music”.

In the early 1990s Chris, partnered with Timeless Records, re-released The Original Dixieland Jass Band’s Livery Stable Blues recording of 1917, the so-called first jazz record. This year’s tour revives the theme under the title Centenary Of Jazz. The Big Chris Barber Band, a 10-piece inspired by Ken Colyer’s Jazz Men, plays music ranging from New Orleans to blues to late 20s Ellington, including tunes such as Bourbon Street Parade, Jubilee Stomp, Petite Fleur, Ice Cream and When The Saints Go Marching In.

The band’s 2017 dates centre around a special anniversary concert at London’s Cadogan Hall on 18 September, but the tireless Barber has been on the road this summer and continues into December, as follows: Fringe by the Sea, North Berwick (8 August), Arts Centre and Theatre, Aberdeen (10), Harrogate Theatre (9 September), The Stables, Wavendon (15), Huntingdon Hall, Worcester (16), Buxton Opera House, Buxton (17), Cadogan Hall, London (18), Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe (20), Anvil Arts, Basingstoke (21), The Key Theatre, Peterborough (23), Mercury Theatre, Colchester (25) and The Cut Arts Centre, Halesworth (7 October). For much of October the band tours in Germany and the Netherlands, returning to the UK to play Theatre Royal, Brighton (7 November), The Mill at Sonning, Sonning (26), The Concorde, Eastleigh (29), The Richmond Theatre, Richmond (30) and South Hill Park, Bracknell (14 December).

For more information on Chris and other tour dates go to or

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