Chris Barber Big Band

DAVID WAKEFIELD Norwich Playhouse


> Norwich Playhouse

The air was heavy with nostalgia last night. Chris Barber dryly observed that some of the audience perhaps hadn't been to see his band since its Norwich Lads Club concert in 1954. “Don't leave it so long next time,” he quipped.

And Chris recreated the sounds of those halcyon “trad” days with two numbers from the band's early repertoire in a nice little cameo – The Martinique and Take My Hand, Precious Lord. Authenticity was assured by the presence in the line-up of his 1950s' trumpeter, Pat Halcox, like Chris now in his 75th year.

The 2005 Barber Band, though, is 11 strong, fulfilling the leader's dream to be able to play just what he wants in the way he wants it. So vintage dance music comes as easily as does Miles Davis' All Blues, from the Kind of Blue album (featuring fine work by another long-time Barber sideman guitarist John Slaughter).

But for me it was the Ellington element that shone. Rich reeds and brass allows a spine-chilling recreation of 1920s' and 1930s' Ellingtonia.