Benny Barth

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Describing how his brother Benny got sick at a dinner party, a two-year-old might come up with something that sounds like the professional name of this mostly jazz drummer, an Indianapolis native whose…
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Describing how his brother Benny got sick at a dinner party, a two-year-old might come up with something that sounds like the professional name of this mostly jazz drummer, an Indianapolis native whose birth certificate read Ben Caldwell Barth. After graduating from Butler University, Barth became associated with the sophisticated side of the Los Angeles music scene, hanging out with players such as trumpeter Conte Candoli and pianist Lennie Niehaus. Naturally, some recording session and soundtrack work came out of the associations, as this was bread and butter to any West Coast player who wanted to have at least that available for munching. Candoli's top three notes accompanied the sounds of many a buffalo stampede or police chase, while Niehaus became a close, well-paid collaborator of Clint Eastwood. Barth's bond with the musical Montgomery brothers meant a substantial amount of real time gigging in the calendar, on the other hand. Buddy Montgomery, Monk Montgomery, and Rich Crabtree wound up being his partners in the Mastersounds, a silky-sounding combo who started up in the mid-'50s. The group had a good run, part of the attraction being an unusual combination of vibraphone, bass, and drums. This lineup came up with a series of albums, including a swinging adaptation of the King and I soundtrack.

Barth was a solid drummer who was able to roll showy elements into his solo spots.

Barth's paradiddles were influenced by the leaps of kit kangaroos such as Gene Krupa, Dave Tough, and Jo Jones. Followers of exotica and the sorts of percussion albums that might be found behind the couch at a bachelor's pad may come across Barth on a World Pacific album with the incendiary title of Drums on Fire. In his senior years, Barth became associated with the San Francisco jazz scene, where he picked up the nickname of "the Silver Fox." He regularly fronts the Benny Barth Trio in Bay Area venues with players such as guitarist Randy Vincent and bassist Chris Amberger.