Chris Barber, the Chris Barber Band, and Guests, Memories Of My Trip (a double-CD released April 18, 2011 on Proper Records).
The usual thing with any new Chris Barber CD is that in most cases it is an unusual thing! So it is with the brand new double-CD Memories Of My Trip! It does not cover the present programme of the Big Chris Barber Band but, rather, much of the whole musical career of Chris Barber over the last sixty years. It is indeed a "memory of my trip", both for Chris himself and for his many fans who have followed him and loved his music for so long.
Chris dedicates this new CD to the late John Slaughter, the band's outstanding blues guitar player who died in 2010. Many of us deeply miss John's fantastic blues solos: he was an integral part of the Chris Barber Band's music for more than forty years.
The double-CD features Chris Barber and various line-ups of the Chris Barber Band with an impressive array of guests, such as Ottilie Patterson, Rory Gallagher, Jimmy Cotton, Muddy Waters, Dr. John, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Keith Emerson, Mark Knopfler, Albert Nicholas and many, many more.
Disc One is entitled "Blues, Jazz & Gospel". The opening tune is Brownie McGhee's solo rendition of Memories Of My Trip, which provides the title for the album. Brownie sings about his tours with Chris Barber's Jazz Band in the late 1950s.
The first CD is a complete firework of blues, jazz and gospel songs. We especially like the Muddy Waters Blues Band, playing Kansas City with Chris on trombone. Another great song is Diggin' My Potatoes, with Lonnie Donegan. But this is not the well-known 1954 version recorded at the Royal Festival Hall: it is a recording by the Chris Barber Jazz & Blues Band plus Lonnie Donegan in 1987.
Next, a very interesting Weeping Willow is a collaboration between Eric Clapton and Chris recorded in 2010, on which Eric sings and plays acoustic guitar along with members of his own band.
Chris and the band have recorded several times with Van Morrison. On this CD you will find How Long Blues and Goin' Home from 1998, but also a much earlier recording from 1976 entitled Oh Didn't He Ramble. Not only Van is featured here, but also Dr. John on piano. The interesting thing about this track is that Chris owned a copy of the backing track without the vocal. Van sent Chris the respective original vocal track, and here the two separate tracks are combined for the first time!
Many followers of the Barber band particularly like the blues song Goin' Up The River. However, the version here is not by the Barber Band. Chris guested in 2005 with the Canadian group, Jeff Healey's Jazz Wizards, and recorded a remarkable album with this Canadian group which included Goin' Up The River (see the page for the original CD from the Canadian sessions).
The first CD ends with a very touching song called Another Sad One, written and played by the late John Slaughter. A few days before his death he sent this sound file to us as co-webmasters of the Barber website, asking us to post this song on the site and to dedicate it to his wife Brigitta and his three daughters. In his covering email message he also added the words, "It's me playing in a way nobody ever heard me play."
Disc Two is entitled "Jazz & Blues". And the fireworks of the first CD continue here! The opening song is St. Louis Blues / Missouri Special / St. Louis Blues, featuring Ottilie Patterson singing and Edmond Hall playing clarinet. And a great surprise is the duet of Ed Hall and Ian Wheeler, both on clarinet on "High Society". At last this number is now available on CD.
The sound changes dramatically with Rock Candy, a rock-oriented recording from 1966 with Keith Emerson and Chris Barber.
In 1978 the band toured with John Lewis and Trummy Young. The version of Georgia On My Mind on the new CD was recorded in Germany without John Lewis, but Trummy's trombone playing and singing are fantastic. There is also a great alto sax solo played by Sammy Rimington on this track.
Chris Barber continued his work with New Orleans clarinet players over many years. In 1968 the Band filled the traditional Victoria Hall in Geneva, Switzerland with a terrific performance with Albert Nicholas. C-Jam Blues is featured here and I (Andreas) am very happy that at last this tune has been published on CD. I was lucky in 1977 to arrange that the original Geneva tapes were passed on to Chris by Swiss Radio. C-Jam Blues not only features an outstanding solo from Albert, but also a remarkable alto sax solo by John Crocker, who joined the Barber Band only a few weeks before this event.
The third New Orleans clarinettist on this CD is Joe Darensbourg with Rose Room, accompanied by Chris Barber and Pat Halcox, plus Richard Simmons on piano, Terry Knight on bass, and Dave Evans on drums. This recording dates from August 1974.
In 1983 Eddie Durham, the former Count Basie trombonist, played with the Chris Barber Jazz & Blues Band. Here you will find the great blues number Jack Teagarden Blues.
In 2010 members of the present Big Chris Barber band recorded two songs with Jools Holland, Winin' Boy Blues and On The Sunny Side Of The Street.
The CD ends with three tunes by the Chris Barber Jazz & Blues Band together with Mark Knopfler. These songs, originally recorded for the Chris's BBC Radio 2 programme Jazz Diaries, have been cherished as rarities among fans who were lucky enough to record the programme. It's a great pleasure to have the titles now on a commercial CD.
As we said at the beginning, Memories Of My Trip is an unusual double-CD from an unusual and outstanding Jazz, Gospel and Blues man. It is almost impossible to name and pay the respect to all musicians on this double-CD, so we suggest, sit back in a comfortable chair, sip a good drink (or two!), and listen to more than two hours of great music! The double-CD comes with a 24-page booklet, fully packed with information in Chris's own words and, to our knowledge, some very rare photographs.
All in all, this CD is a fitting tribute to Chris Barber and his more than sixty years as a bandleader and one of jazz's great musicians; it surely is indispensable as an item in every Barber fan's collection.
With only a slight variation in the words, the lyrics of Mark Knopfler's lovely song, ‘Til The Next Time I'm In Town, which completes the album, could sum up every Chris Barber fan's gratitude to Chris for his music, both in concert and on record, for many decades:
It's been something seeing you again
In this time we've had to spend
Been so good to be around.
I thank you for that special thrill
Keep me going on until
The next time [you're] in town....
Andreas Wandfluh and Ed Jackson,