Steamboat Bill and High Society- 1957

Chris Barber

The popular British trad band plays for dancing young people

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Chris Barber led his very popular New Orleans-style band in his native England for over 60 years.

While the trombonist included some modern music in his repertoire (particularly after the mid-1960s) and had occasional collaborations with pop and rock stars, his foundation was always New Orleans jazz.

Dixieland and classic jazz had made a comeback in the United States in the 1940s but, just when it was dying in popularity in the U.S., the trad jazz movement was gaining great momentum in England in the 1950s and became the United Kingdom’s pop music up until the rise of the Beatles.

As can be seen, by the television appearance of Chris Barber’s band from Aug. 31, 1957, young people loved to dance to his music which was easily holding its own in England with the new rock and roll music and modern jazz.

Singer Otillie Patterson (a versatile vocalist) is featured on “Steamboat Bill” and then the band with trumpeter Pat Halcox who played with Barber’s groups for over 50 years, clarinetist Monty Sunshine (who is well featured), banjoist Eddie Smith, bassist Dick Smith, and drummer Ron Bowden, get the dancers excited on “High Society.”

-Scott Yanow


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