Danny Barker

New Orleans to New York 1949-1964

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Danny Barker had a long career, though he probably gained his widest recognition near the end of his life. New Orleans to New York 1949-1964 collects nearly all of his dates as a leader (excepting his solo LP for the Orleans label in 1988), all of which have been out of print for decades, or in one case, previously unissued. The first four tracks date from a 1949 session for King Zulu, though none of the supporting musicians is identified. The highlight is "Chocko Mo Feendo Hey" (a piece popularized decades later by Dr. John, another native of New Orleans), while the march "Indian Red" also proves to be catchy. "Eh La Bas" was recorded by a number of bands, though this obscure 1955 recording of it features Barker on banjo and vocals with a group led by Paul Barbarin. Eleven tracks come from a 1958 studio date by Danny Barker and His Riverboat Ramblers for Period, all of it fairly conservative Dixieland charts, though his band includes former Ellington bassist Wellman Braud and clarinetist Joe Muranyi. The sound of the four unissued tracks from a 1964 session is wretched, as if they were dubbed from worn test pressings. The gem of this date is Barker's hilarious updating of the lyrics to the gospel favorite "This Train," with references to junkies and other lowlifes. Even with sketchy liner notes, uneven sound and material, anyone who ever heard Barker perform in person will want to pick up this CD.