The 89-year old is hanging up his trombone after 70 years of touring and promotion
Veteran trad-jazz performer Chris Barber has announced his retirement from music at the age of 89; his legendary British big band having been on the road for 70 years. A trombonist, he was first enthralled by jazz records and musicians arriving from New Orleans in the late 1940’s, in fact his version of Sidney Bechet’s ‘Petite Fleur’ became a notable hit, selling over a million copies in the UK alone.
Barber has been well known for his work with Lonnie Donegan, Kenny Ball and Aker Bilk, as well as funding and organising UK tours for jazz and blues musicians such as Muddy Waters and Sister Rosetta Tharp. He was awarded the OBE in 1991 and his autobiography ‘Jazz Me Blues’, co-written with Alyn Shipton, appeared in 2014. The double album "Memories of My Trip" featuring his career-spanning collaborations with other jazz, blues, skiffle and gospel luminaries is being re-issued on CD on 11th October by The Last Music Company.
The Chris Barber Band will continue to tour under that name, now led by fellow trombonist Bob Hunt.
Paul Jones said: "From 'Rock Island Line' until today, Chris Barber has always been like a father-figure to me; I cherish the times when he invited me to sing and play with his band - and when he returned the compliment by gracing (or, as he liked to put it, 'infesting') the stage or recording-studio with The Blues Band. An inspiration and a role-model; thank you, Chris!"
While Sir Tim Rice added: "Chris Barber's work in so many areas of jazz, blues and popular music since the end of the Second World War has been immense and often criminally underrated. It is very sad to hear that he is retiring from live performances which he continued to give with energy and panache until well into his ninth decade. He achieved great success and popularity during his long career but few of his stature have had such an influence on the development of British music across so many styles and generations."