Paul Barbarin is regarded as one of the greatest of the early new Orleans drummers. He had stints with Freddie Keppard, Jimmy Noone, King Oliver, Luis Russell, Henry ‘Red’ Allen, Sidney Bechet and Louis Armstrong, while often returning to New Orleans. After World II, he remained in New Orleans where he played traditional New Orleans Jazz as well as revived his father’s Onward Brass Band with Louis Cottrell, Jr. He was also a songwriter and composer, a member of ASCAP and some of his compositions including, “Bourbon Street Parade” and “(Paul Barbarin’s) Second Line,” have become core for the traditional New Orleans repertoire and staple of the contemporary Brass Bands. He passed away in 1969 while leading a street parade.
Barbarin recorded with many of the famous musicians he was associated with, as well as made a number of recordings as a leader for Atlantic Records and GHB as well as played on recordings by Bunk johnson, George Lewis and others. The latter is one of the labels that was created by or are now owned by George Buck as part of the George H. Buck, Jr., Jazz Foundation family of labels. In 2008, they released on GHB, BCD-2, Paul Barbarin and his New Orleans Jazz Band. Buck recalled in his JazzBeat magazine from March 2008, “This was the second production we released on our GHB label, and it features Ernie Cagnolatti on trumpet, Eddie Pierson, trombone, Albert Burbank, clarinet, Lester Santiago on piano, Richard McLean on bass, and Paul Barbarin on drums. This was recorded in New Orleans in June 1954, and the original LP has been out of stock for quite a number of years, so I’m happy to report that it is available once again, this time on CD.
It is an interesting group of musicians, although most are little known. This is the only recording by the Afro-Italian, Cagnolatti while pianist Santiago recorded with Herb Morand, as well as George Lewis & Red Allen in addition to Barbarin. Clarinetist Burbank, like Santiago can be heard on a number of GHB Foundation label recordings and a well regarded New Orleans clarinetist, while both bassist McLean and trombonist Pierson are less represented in the Buck Foundation catalog.
Whatever the case, the band that is heard on Paul Barbarin and his New Orleans Jazz Band, is an excellent one in the classic New Orleans tradition. The band has such a ebullient swing to it, of course in part to the leader’s wonderful drums. The selection of songs is marvelous with the three horns all being wonderful, whether doing their collective heads as well as during their solos. From the first moments of “Weary Blues,” with the three horns followed by rollicking piano by Santiago followed by a warm, woody solo from Burbank leading to the three horns in a collective improvisation. Cagnolatti’s obvious influence was Louis Armstrong, and his bright crisp playing enlivens every track as when he takes the lead over the other horns on Barbarin’s classic “Bourbon Street Parade.” Burbank takes the initial solo before Cagnolatti takes his crisp sounding lead followed by honky tonk piano and then the the trombone and clarinet weave in and around the trumpet lead as Cagnolatti leads the way as they ride the number out. Whether handling the nitty gritty of “Tin Roof Blues,” or other staples of the New Orleans repertoire as “Clarinet Marmalade,” “Panama” (heard on two recordings), “Muskrat Ramble,” “Milneberg Joys,” “Just a Closer Walk With Thee,” or “Sweet Georgia Brown,” the ensemble playing is first-rate throughout, and with infectious joy. The rhythm section swings and the solos catch the listener’s attention for a terrific recording of authentic New Orleans Jazz.
This CD is available from better vendors like amazon or the Louisiana Music Factory, but you might check out www.jazzology.com which lists all of the Buck Foundation labels and available releases that include a wide variety of traditional and swing jazz, blues and jazz-inflected vocalists. All there is the Record Collectors Discount Club that has a modest entry fee and allows discounted prices of the catalog of books, CDs and DVDs.
I purchased this CD. My biographical information from wikipedia, drummerworld.com and jazzology.com.