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date: 17 October 2019

Barber, Bill [John William ]locked

  • Leroy Ostransky
  • , revised by Barry Kernfeld


[John William ]

(b Hornell, NY, May 21, 1920; d Bronxville, NY, June 18, 2007). American tuba player. He studied at the Institute of Musical Art in New York and first played with the Kansas City Philharmonic Orchestra; after army service (1942–5) he performed with Claude Thornhill (1947–8). In 1949 he was a founding member of Miles Davis’s nonet, and took part in the famous “Birth of the Cool” recording sessions; he then worked in theater pit orchestras while also recording with the Sauter–Finegan Orchestra (1952–4), Pete Rugolo (1954), and the orchestra led by Davis and Gil Evans (1957–62), with which he may be seen in the television show “Theater for a Story” (1959). From 1960 he taught music at public schools on Long Island, and performed only sporadically. In 1992 he joined Gerry Mulligan to record and tour internationally in a “Re-Birth of the Cool” group. Barber may have been the first tuba player to take solos in a modern-jazz style and to participate in intricate ensemble passages. His technique allowed him to play both slow, legato melodies and rapid lines, and he generally employed the entire range of the instrument. His solo in a blues chorus on ...

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L. Feather: The Encyclopedia of Jazz (New York, 1955, rev. and enlarged 2/1960/R1984)