Bob Hunt: Arranger, trombone and trumpet
In 1998 Chris first teamed up with Bob Hunt’s Ellingtonians to play some of the Duke’s material. The Ellingtonians were Bob, Mike Henry, and Nick Payton; Bob was responsible for the arrangements. After some dates and a couple of years or so, it became obvious to Chris that the Chris Barber Band could expand on a permanent basis, and thus the band became The Big Chris Barber Band in Autumn 2001. Bob and Mike joined, but due to other commitments Nick Payton had to decline the invitation, and was replaced by Tony Carter.
Bob’s father was a drummer, and this meant that Bob was aware of music – jazz in particular – at an early age. His first paid work was when he was 10. At that time he played cornet! He still does (but not with the Barber band). He also plays piano.
Bob led his first band at school, and in fact they were allowed to play at other schools. This was more a comedic band bordering on jazz (they used to re-enact Goon Show sketches with music thrown in). As some of the group left school, the jazz became more prominent and the band morphed into a big band (not dissimilar to the Big Chris Barber Band), with four saxophones, three trumpets, two trombones, bass, guitar, and drums – this was in the mid-1970s, while Bob himself was still at school.
Bob also played in Brass Bands (like Mike Henry; in fact they competed against each other in the mid 1970’s). Bob was with the G.U.S Footwear Band. He played banjo with Steve Lane Southern Stompers from North London. This was Bob’s first well known band.
From school Bob went into the army (the Coldstream Guards) and attended the Army Music School. He became principal trombone. He married in 1978, and came out of the army in 1985. He had played music all through his army career. His first job after the army was as an English teacher, for a couple of years prior to becoming a full-time musician and arranger. The bands in which he played included Harry Strutters Hot Rhythm Orchestra, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and the Pasadena Roof Orchestra. Bob still plays ands records with friends (both The Ellington Orchestra, and Harry Strutters).
Bob developed an interest in Ellington music at an early age, and met Duke at the Royal Festival Hall when he was still at school. He took his master’s degree in music, based on arranging Ellington music. For Bob, arranging is still a driving passion, and he arranged most of the numbers on Chris’s 2003 CD, Jubilee Stomp.
Bob left the Big Chris Barber Band in January 2008, after which he spent some time in South Africa. He re-joined the band in December 2009.
Music: Excerpts from Devaluation Blues and Spell of the Blues.
(Transcribed from an interview with Bob by Julian Purser and Andreas Wandfluh. Copyright © 2004, Julian Purser, licensed to chrisbarber.net)