The Chris Barber Archives & Website Team
Ed Jackson, Julian Purser, and Andreas Wandfluh at our first (and, so far, only) meeting: Bristol, December 2003.
Since January 1, 2004, has been maintained by Ed Jackson (Edmonton, Canada), Julian Purser (Bristol, England) and Andreas Wandfluh (Zürich, Switzerland). On this page we tell a little about ourselves and how we became so interested in Chris Barber's music; we have also picked out a few of our favourite recordings on EPs, LPs, and CDs.
Ed Jackson (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)
Ed at his retirement party at
the University of Alberta,
September 2007
My first encounter with the music of Chris Barber came, like that for so many other English children of my generation (the first of the baby-boomers), via the Lonnie Donegan Skiffle Group's recording of Rock Island Line. I moved with my family from one small town to another in the North Midlands in 1956, when I was ten, and it was not long after this that the skiffle craze swept Britain. Along with countless others, I was enthralled with this simple music which – it seemed – anyone could play, and my little brother and I were soon banging out It Takes A Worried Man: he on tea-chest bass and I on a rare gift that my not very affluent parents must have saved a long time for: a secondhand acoustic Spanish guitar (it had actually been made in Italy).

Sad to say, while we continued to play for a couple of years (mostly in the key of E because that's what I learned first from The Lonnie Donegan Skiffle Book), and even inflicted ourselves on our extended family and, occasionally, the odd church hall concert audience, my musical talent (a term that I use very loosely) never really improved. At the same time, though, I was open to new sounds, and I remember that one of my favourites, frequently played on the radio, was Whistlin' Rufus.

The Jackson Brothers Skiffle Group
I was hooked! By 1962 I was a full-blown trad fan, my ear glued to BBC radio whenever Saturday Club, Jazz Club, and later Trad Tavern were on, a fan of all things trad, but Chris Barber above all others. I began my Chris Barber collection with the all-too-rare purchase of a very few singles, EPs and LPs, all thrillingly bought after hoarding my one-pound-per-week payment for pumping petrol at a nearby service station. I risked all my friendships by constantly extolling the virtues of Ball, Barber and Bilk to everyone I knew, and to begin with remained impervious to the incomprehensible attractions of the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and all else from the beat group movement which eventually pushed trad aside and off the hit parade.

Although there was a Thursday night jazz club upstairs in one of the pubs close to my home, neither the pub nor the town were big enough to attract the Three Bs, but we were more than content with frequent visits by the Saints Jazz Band and Keith Pendlebury's Band from Manchester, other fairly local but less well-known bands, occasionally Alan Elsdon (most of the band's members had previously played in the Ceramic City Stompers, from nearby Stoke-on-Trent), Charlie Galbraith, and, on one particularly memorable occasion, the Alex Welsh Band.

Thus, it wasn't until after I left home for the comparatively distant University of London in 1964 that I had the opportunity to see the Chris Barber Band in person. And what a memorable occasion for me that was: the band before my very eyes and ears at the open-air bandshell in Battersea Park. This was followed by numerous visits to see the band at The Marquee Club in Wardour Street. I can't honestly say I remember much about the performances or what the band played, but I did get to vaguely know Chris by talking to him frequently during intervals. What a nice man he turned out to be! I was always amazed and gratified that he would take the time to talk to a young fan. It was also during my time at university that my musical tastes broadened, by now encompassing a great deal of modern jazz, some classical music, and the beginning of a many-decades-long obsession with the music of Duke Ellington.

Cutting ahead by several years, by 1975 I'd emigrated to Canada, completed graduate degrees at the Universities of Calgary and Toronto, and moved to Edmonton as a fledging Assistant Professor of Geography at the University of Alberta. This effectively cut me off from adding to my Barber collection, as none of Chris's records were ever in the stores, except on occasional trips back to Toronto, where I would usually discover a gem or two in the jazz room of the nationally famous Sam the Record Man's incredibly diverse and well-stocked store on Yonge Street.

And that's how things stayed for many years, until the advent of the Internet. This meant two things for me: the ability to add to my collection via websites like eBay and Amazon, and my initial attempts at constructing web pages of my own. One of the first of these was the now-defunct The Art of Chris Barber, which was originally intended to display scans of as many Chris Barber record covers as I could find.

Chris Barber and Ed Jackson, backstage
at Colston Hall, Bristol, December 2003
It was through this latter site that I came to know my partners-in-crime here on the Barber website, Andreas Wandfluh and Julian Purser, and indirectly through Julian that Chris invited me to re-design his then rather dull and stagnant website. Naturally I jumped at the chance despite a heavy workload at the University and a comparatively young family. A wonderful offshoot of my first Barber site was that I quickly came to know Julian and Andreas very well (not to mention many other like-mided Barber fans around the world), if only by e-mail at the time. Then, in October 2003 Julian visited western Canada as part of a longer North American excursion, and we really did become fast friends, spending a couple of memorable days in Jasper National Park in the Rockies, not far west of my home in Edmonton. This all culminated in my visit to England in December 2003, where the three of us met for the first – and so far only – time, and I was able to attend three concerts by the Big Chris Barber Band: the first time I'd seen the Barber Band "live" in over thirty-five years! I was also able to spend some considerable time backstage at the concerts, getting to know the members of the band at the time and taking lots of photographs.

The three of us officially started our joint management of the Barber website in January 2004. Since then, while I've been responsible for layout and design, and for adding the almost-weekly updates, Julian and Andreas have played an equally important role in forwarding scans of archival material and up-to-date photographs taken at the many concerts they've been able to attend. I think we have a pretty good, friendly and productive "team" going among the three of us, and I'm looking forward to many more years of further cooperation and collaboration with them, with Chris, and with other present and formers members of the band. From the beginning we've shared the philosophy that the site should not only emphasise current Barber-related events but also act as an accessible public archive, in words, graphics, and music, of Chris Barber: trombonist, band leader, and one of the most influential musicians in Britain in the last fifty years.

It's been a privilege and a joy to me to progress from starry-eyed teenage fan to Chris Barber website webmaster, and now that I've retired, I hope to be able to devote even more time to it.
Some of my favourite Chris Barber records:
Julian Purser (Bristol, Somerset, England)
Julian on tour with the band in Denmark, January 2005
I was born in Bristol at the end of 1940, and lived in a small village some miles outside the city.

My first recollections of hearing jazz were listening to my Dad's 78s, mainly swing, especially Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw: the live version of Sing, Sing, Sing was one of his and my favourites. However, by the time I was a teenager I had started to listen to Louis Armstrong, Humphrey Lyttelton, Chris Barber, and so on. I still have in my possession a small blue notebook in which I started writing what records I had and who played on each one (this was the start of my discographical endeavours).

Living near to Bristol I was able to visit the Colston Hall and see both Chris and Acker Bilk, and even Louis Armstrong. The local Bristol jazz band was the Avon Cities. I joined their club where they played regularly, and we the fans would dance. Great times!!

For some years in the 1960s I lived in digs in Bristol, and my record collection disappeared! Later in that decade I married, and for some years whilst working to build a career and looking after my family (we had two girls) jazz took a very back seat. However in the early 1970s I came across Chris's Battersea Raindance and once again was hooked. From then on, with help and encouragement from a good friend, Jem Wilyman, I started to rebuild my Chris Barber collection.

Julian and Chris, December 2003
In 1972 my employer obligingly transferred me to a branch near London, which meant I could nip into London on an evening. On a summer's evening in 1973 I went with Alan Nicholson (a good friend of Chris and the band) to a concert in Bishops Park, and met the band, and for the next few years I was able to see the band almost on a weekly basis.

As Andreas mentions in his biography, he and I met in 1974, and have remained very good friends ever since. My visits to Europe over the last few years have usually been to Switzerland, where we both would join up with the band, and we have both been to Denmark when Chris was playing there.

Over the years as my record collection grew, and my archival involvement with the band grew, I got in touch with Gerard Bielderman. Gerard had written the first discography of the band, and I suggested we then cooperate on future editions, and this we have continued to do.

Julian in Jasper National Park,
October 2003
I am not quite sure where the archive interest started (although I suppose it was a logical extension of my record collecting). However, I do remember going into the Marquee offices (above the club in Soho) and spending a day going through a cupboard full of booklets, leaflets, and photographs; this became the start of the Barber/Purser Archives.

A few years ago Andreas told me about Ed's Chris Barber website, and the three of us decided to join up to create a definitive Barber website. The three of us met in the UK at the end of 2003, after I had been to Canada to meet Ed and his family earlier in the year. Chris gave the undertaking his full backing, and I feel that we have built a formidable website, both for commercial uses, and the permanent storing of as much archive material as we can find. There is still much more to dig out. The site now acts as a reference for many purposes, such as journalists looking for particular photos or items, concert Halls requiring photographs and details of the Band, and the like.

I enjoy the collaboration with Ed and Andreas, and the three of us hope to meet again next year to plan further development of the site.
Some of my favourite Chris Barber records:
Andreas Wandfluh (Zürich, Switzerland)
Andreas Wandfluh
Born in 1950 in Berne, the capital of Switzerland, I first started to play the recorder in 1958. In 1959 I was already fed up with classical tunes and I wrote down the notes of "When the saints" on to a music sheet. My music teacher at that time was not very happy with this "jazz influence" and I switched – by coincidence – to learn to play the clarinet with a new and open-minded teacher. This was Heinz Bodmer, leader of the now very well known Swiss jazz band, the Firehouse Revival Jazz Band. At exactly the same time I heard for the first time a wonderful tune called Wild Cat Blues, played by a chap called Chris Barber. At that time I didn’t know that in fact Monty Sunshine was the clarinet player! Later I saw pictures of Monty and – of course – I bought the EP Petite Fleur. However, my first-ever jazz record was the Decca EP New Orleans Blues by the 1954 Chris Barber Jazz Band, which was given to me by an uncle in 1958!

A very special event happened in February 1962. I read an announcement that the Chris Barber Jazz Band was giving a concert in Berne at the Casino. I don't remember how I convinced my father to buy tickets for this event, but it was the first Barber concert I attended. It was a great deception! Instead of the blond Monty Sunshine there was a bearded clarinet player, and – curiously too – he also played the alto sax: Ian Wheeler. Anyway, it was my first visit to a Barber concert and my father and I went backstage, asking why Monty Sunshine was no longer playing with the band. Chris introduced me (I was eleven-and-a-half years old!) to Ian Wheeler, and convinced me to follow the band. That was the start of my record collection.

Andreas and Chris, backstage
at the Casino Berne (Switzerland),
Feb 7th, 1969.
(Photo by Roland Bigler).
For a short time (the end of the 1960s) I played clarinet in a few casual jazz groups in Berne, but I was not that fine an artist on clarinet and so I gave it up very soon. However, following the traditional jazz and blues scene in Europe (great concerts by the Dutch Swing College Band with leader Peter Schilperoort; Ben Webster's Swiss tour; Champion Jack Dupree; Eddie Boyd; Oscar Klein, etc.) became one of my great passions. But for the Chris Barber Band I had a special interest and I collected everything I could find about the band. This passion still lasts after more than forty years.

In 1974 I did my English studies at the Pitman School of English in London. I was a regular guest at the 100 Club in Oxford Street and it was at that time that I met Julian Purser, the Barber band’s archivist, and later on a Swiss au-pair girl living in London, who became and still is my wife.

My great friendship with Julian, which still lasts and which I hope will continue to last for a long time, allowed me to complete my record collection. In 1977, I got in contact with Swiss Radio in Lausanne and was able to transfer the rights to the fantastic 1968 concert with Albert Nicholas and Chris Barber (Victoria Hall, Geneva) to Chris. I still don’t know why Chris has not published this fantastic and complete concert. Could it be because it was only recorded in mono?

Andreas on tour with the band in
Denmark, January 2005
Since 1962 I have met at least once a year the Barber band, enjoying many discussions with Chris and the boys. In the 1980s Chris allowed me to record some of his Swiss concerts with a dummy head microphone right from the public stalls. I was very happy with these recordings at that time, not knowing, that – about 20 years later – digital sound editing would make it possible to recreate these fantastic concerts and preserve them on private CDs.

In 1999, I started my own website, putting information (mainly tour dates, information about concerts in Germany and Switzerland, and a few programmes from the ‘60s and ‘70s) on the site, together with my other passion, model railroading. It was in 2003 when a Canadian called Ed Jackson contacted me, asking me to introduce him to Julian Purser. (Ed was at that time running his own web site with Chris Barber stuff). This was the start of a wonderful friendship with Ed. We met for the first and only time in December 2003 at Julian Purser's house in Somerset and also enjoyed a great Chris Barber concert evening in Bristol. It was at that meeting that we decided to share the running of the official website of the Chris Barber Band.

In 2002 I started taking my first digital photos at concerts, but only in 2003 did this become a regular practice. You will find a lot of my pictures here on the official Chris Barber website as well as on my personal website ( (However, due to a change of Internet provider, I don’t yet have the latest information on my personal website).

For me it's great fun to run this official website with Ed and Julian. Julian and I have a lot of archival material (he definitely has more than I!). We think that this material should be made public so that all fans of Chris Barber and his bands may have as much information as possible. I hope that this project will last for a long time.
Some of my favourite Chris Barber records:
The Archives and Website Team with Chris and Kate Barber, backstage at Colston Hall, Bristol, December 2003
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