|Chris Barber's Jazz Band, High Society, and Chris Barber's Jazzband, Hits From the Golden Era Of Traditional Jazz
(Compilation CDs, release dates unknown, of recordings from the band's early catalogue on various labels in the UK and Denmark).
I recently came across these two compilation compact discs for sale on eBay, and decided to purchase them – despite having all of the contents on numerous other CDs, LPs, and EPs – as a service to the website in case they contained anything unusual which might be of interest to avid Barber fans and music collectors, or to the more casual listener and record purchaser. My conclusion is that their appeal is likely to be much more to the latter group of people because, like me, fans who have been following the Barber Band for many years already own most if not all the tracks.
The two CDs are similar in that both draw upon the rich vein of Barber recordings from the band's first studio session for the Decca label (New Orleans Joys, recorded in 1954) to the latter part of the 1960s. High Society is a single disc comprising twenty tracks all drawn from the Pye/Nixa catalogue, encompassing the Chris Barber Plays series of four LPs, plus material from the three Chris Barber In Concert LPs. Hits From The Golden Era Of Traditional Jazz is rather more ambitious: this is a double-CD album with notes in both German and English, with a total of forty tracks. Many of them are the same as those which appear on High Society, but the scope is both narrower (the last track is from 1957) and broader: as well as tracks from the Pye/Nixa label we also have numerous tracks that were recorded for Decca, Storyville and Columbia.
In a sense these two CDs are just two more examples of the many such releases that have appeared during the last decade or more – compilations designed to recycle early material over and over again. From that point of view they are as good as any of the others, such as for example, the Pye Jazz Anthology which came out in the early 2000s. It's unlikely that they will appeal to serious collectors but, on the other hand, they do provide an excellent introduction to the Chris Barber Band's early recordings. Incidentally, they would make great gifts if one wished to introduce a friend to the early music of Chris Barber.
Ed Jackson, August 2011