Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Chris Barber's Memorable Musical Journey
Opening is a Brownie McGhee recording from a Folkways recording of McGhee, that provides this compilation with its title, presenting McGhee’s fond recollections of his European travels with Chris and his traditional jazz band. McGhee, and his partner Sonny Terry, are heard on two selections with the traditional gospel number Do Lord, Do Remember Me. It is a spirited ensemble performance with Ottilie Patterson, Barber’s regular vocalist sharing the lead with Brownie. Weeping Willow is a recording of Barber on trombone with Eric Clapton taking the vocal and playing guitar. Muddy Waters and Pinetop Perkins can be heard on an enthusiastic rendition of Kansas City, with Muddy vigorously calling out for Chris. It is followed by a nice James Cotton performance backed by Alexis Korner on guitar and Chris on bass.
Rory Gallagher is heard playing slide and singing Muddy’s Can’t Be Satisfied, with just Barber’s bass and this is followed by Lonnie Donegan doing a raucous Diggin’ My Potatoes, backed by a full band. Barber traveled to Canada to play with Jeff Healey and His Jazz Wizards for a atmospheric blues Goin’ Up The River, with Barber singing and playing nice tailgate trombone along with the able support of Healey’s restrained guitar and trumpet. Van Morrison is heard on two nicely sung blues performances from a 1998 performance and a somewhat over-the-top vocal on Oh Didn’t He Ramble, from 1976 on a session that also included Dr. John. Ottilie Patterson herself was featured on Lonesome Road, while gospel legend Alex Bradford takes the lead on Couldn’t Keep To Myself where Chris and other band members provided the backing vocal chorus.
Traditional jazz with a New Orleans flavor is represented by selections by such important artists of the time as clarinetist Edmond Hall with a nice medley that included St. Louis Blues, and a brilliant version of the New Orleans jazz staple, High Society. Keith Emerson would be better known as a member of Emerson Lake and Palmer, but when he recorded Rock Candy in 1966, he was playing organ in the vein of Jack McDuff and Jimmy McGriff. Barber’s trombone spices up to this funky blues instrumental. A couple of selections feature former members of Louis Armstrong’s All Stars as Trummy Young brings his vocal and trombone (in addition to that of Chris) for Georgia On My Mind. Clarinetist Joe Darensbourg is heard on an intimate small group recording of a swing staple, “Rose Room.”
Another New Orleans clarinetist, Albert Nicholas, is spotlighted on the Ellington staple, “C-Jam Blues,” with lovely guitar from John Slaughter while Stu Morrison’s jangly banjo adds a clipped rhythmic flavor behind Nicholas’ very fluid playing. Eddie Durham was arranger for Count Basie and other bands, and one of the first jazz electric guitarists to record. He was also a trombonist of considerable capability and is featured on a blues that was called “Jack Teagarden Blues” after that famous trombonist.
After “Tailgate Boogie,” featuring the piano of Sammy Price, the CDs close with performances with Jools Holland and Mark Knopfler (of Dire Straits fame). Holland’s rendition of Jelly Roll Morton’s “Winin’ Boy Blues” is a marvelous rendition of this classic. Knopfler is on an appealing low-key rendition of The Delmore Brothers’ “Blues Stay Away From Me,“ with some lovely trombone from Barber along with a lovely updating of the Dallas String Band’s ”Dallas Rag” that opens with some nice picking from Knopfler. Pat Halcox’s trumpet is also quite nice here. These are very amiable performances that conclude a varied and entertaining release. Memories Of My Trip is Chris Barber’s own musical capsule of a musical life well lived.
My review copy was provided by a publicist for the recording. Here is a video of Chris Barber.