Back in Berlin 1960
(Lake LACD 346 – double album).  
Earlville Association for Ragtime Lovers Yearning
for Jazz Advancement and Socialization
Editor, Webmaster:  Phil Cartwright
Bert's Bits
CD Review
Bert Thompson

Disc One                                        Playing time 59m. 00s.                                1) Bourbon
Street Parade; 2) Georgia Cakewalk; 3) Papa De Da Da; 4) Soudan; 5) What’s I’m
Gotcha; 6) Lord, Lord, Lord; 7) Sweet Georgia Brown; 8) There’ll Be a Hot Time in the
Old Town Tonight; 9) It’s All Over; 10) Heavenly Sunshine.

Disc Two                                        Playing time 56m. 32s.
1) Hiawatha Rag; 2) Majorca; 3) Do Right Baby; 4) New Orleans Hula; 5) Hushabye; 6)
Wild Cat Blues *; 7) Take Your Pick; 8) Whistling Rufus; 9) I Can’t Give You Anything
but Love; 10) Come along Home to Me; 11) When the Saints Go Marching In.
*This track is misnamed in the tray insert and in the booklet.  There it is listed as St.
Philip Street Breakdown by George Lewis but is actually Sidney Bechet’s composition
Wild Cat Blues.  

Recorded Deutschlandhalle, Berlin, May 4, 1960.  
Personnel:  Chris Barber – Trombone, double bass (track 2-7), vocal (tracks 1-1, 6);  Pat
Halcox – Trumpet, vocal (tracks 1-1, 6; 2-3);  Monty Sunshine – Clarinet, vocal (tracks 1-
1, 6);  Eddie Smith – Banjo;  Dick Smith – Double Bass;  Graham Burbidge – Drums
Ottilie Patterson – vocals (tracks 1-8, 9, 10; 2-9, 10, 11)

In the heady days of the very early fifties in the U.K., traditional jazz was beginning to
blossom and to sideline much of the pop music of the time—deathless paeans to
doggies in the window, monkey honeymoons, and crying little white clouds.  
Following the emergence of the George Webb Dixielanders and the Crane River Jazz
Band came the band formed by Chris Barber and Monty Sunshine in 1953 about the
time Ken Colyer returned from New Orleans to a hero’s welcome in the trad jazz
ranks.  Pat Halcox declining the trumpet chair, it was offered to Colyer, and the band
was originally called Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen.  With Colyer’s departure a little over a year
later, Barber took over as leader, Pat Halcox agreed to replace Colyer, and the group
became known as the Chris Barber Jazz Band.  It then went on to become arguably the
most popular trad band in the U.K., and even with several replacements in the rhythm
section, the band’s status did not change as their sound remained fairly constant, the
front line still being the “original” and Ottilie Patterson still singing with them.
Barber and his men, while embracing the New Orleans style of emphasis on ensemble,
differentiated themselves from others by “polishing” the ensemble sound (most
improvising being left to the soloists), working out head charts and then executing
them cleanly.  Halcox’s trumpet lead was not a forceful one and Barber played a very
“light,” punchy trombone—no long slurs and growling glissandi—and on clarinet
Sunshine danced around the other two in the front line.  The result was a bouncing,
light rhythm that the back line complemented, the whole effect finding much favor
with the fans.  That sound is what we have here.  The Berlin concert of 1960 contains
both numbers that are often to be found in the Barber play lists, but others that seldom
are or that are here recorded the first time.  Among the latter are Heavenly Sunshine
(disc 1), Take Your Pick, and Come along Home to Me (disc 2).   
The Barber band was never a slouch when it came to tempo, and it charges out of the
then get on with the program.  The tunes that follow on the first disc, Georgia
Cakewalk and Papa De Da Da, carry on where the first left off, and the same can be
said of much of the rest of the playlist of that night, including Hiawatha, Majorca, and
others on disc 2.  That is not to imply that the renditions are impaired by the tempos,
just that they are a bit unusual, given those one is used to hearing from other bands for
many of these same tunes.  
The Barber group is obviously well rehearsed, witness the tight harmonies of the front
line on tunes such as Papa De Da Da, Soudan, or Whistling Rufus, and the absence of
flubs, despite this being a live recording.  While there are the usual flaws that can creep
into a live recording, such as someone being off-mike or being too close to a mike and
no mixing remedy available later, these are very few and minor and can hardly be laid
at the door of the musicians.
Well deserving of a share of the artist credit on this CD set, Ottilie Patterson sings on
three tracks on each disc.  She was such a large part of the band at this time, before the
throat troubles that forced her to give up singing some time later.  Here she is still in
splendid form, her rendition of There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight
almost compelling the listener to get up and strut as she deftly glides through the
several key changes the band makes.  Or there is the absolutely stunning blues in the
following track, It’s All Over, where her pitch is perfect as she hits every note squarely
and the passion rises and falls as she interprets the lyric, using just the right touch of
vibrato and supported by the sympathetic obbligatos of Halcox and Barber.  I would
concur with the judgment that she was Britain’s greatest blues singer and compares
favorably with her American counterparts.  
So this is all classic Barber fare.  Of the musician lineup, sadly only Barber is still with
us—and still playing at eighty-six!  It is fortunate that he heard about the tapes of this
concert being up for sale on eBay in 2013 and managed to procure them from the eBay
seller, and also that he made them available to Paul Adams, who in turn has released
them on this double CD set.  Lake Records generously has included them in the
“twofer” category, which should make acquiring them fairly painless.
The CD set is available on Amazon and elsewhere on line and also from Lake Records