Barry Martyn has been as important a producer and propagandist for New Orleans jazz as he has been a drummer. Throughout his career, he has frequently been the youngest member (often by decades) in the bands he led. Martyn, who began playing drums in 1955, was a natural-born leader, heading his first group a year later; he was recording by 1959. Martyn was primarily interested in New Orleans revival jazz as played by the veterans. In 1961 he first visited New Orleans, where he studied drums with Cie Frazier and founded the Mono label. Throughout the 1960s Martyn accompanied New Orleans veterans visiting Europe (including George Lewis, Albert Nicholas, Louis Nelson, Captain John Handy, Percy Humphrey and many others) and visited the U.S. as often as possible. In 1972 Martyn moved to Los Angeles and the following year he founded the Legends of Jazz, a band that toured the world and recorded several albums. In 1984 he relocated to New Orleans, where he has worked with George Buck to revive and reissue the music of Bill Russell's Circle label. As a musician, Martyn has appeared on countless sessions, including ones with Barney Bigard in 1976 and with his own groups, and he has led record dates for GHB (including with a reissue of his earliest session in 1959), Pirate, 77, Rhythm Rec, Swift, CTJC, CSA and Big Lou.
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