In recent years Chris Barber has expanded his personnel to 11 for some gigs. Some of the repertoire remains unchanged (Bourbon Street Parade, Petite Fleur) but the fuller instrumentation means they can do justice to Duke Ellington’s compositions. There are so many here (seven out of 22) that this concert, recorded at Shepperton Film Studios in August 2007, is almost a tribute: Black & Tan Fantasy and Hot & Bothered work very well, and the band have a great time with C-Jam Blues.
There are occasional vocals from Barber and his long-standing trumpeter Pat Halcox, but neither are convincing singers. The band really springs to life when Andy Fairweather- Low makes a guest appearance; his lively version of It Takes A Worried Man is inspired by the way Lonnie would do it with Barber’s band.
The music is fine but, like most jazz bands, they pat themselves on the back far too often and two hours of one musician pointing to another to generate applause is irritating. It’s hard to catch all of Chris Barber’s gabble, though it is potentially interesting: when he talks about a rock musician giving him a new song, Can’t Stop Now, he fails to say that the writer is Graham Lyle.