Pat Halcox: Trumpeter with the Chris Barber Band

 

Between 1954 and 2008, the trumpeter Pat Halcox played over 10,000 performances with Chris Barber's Jazz and Blues Band. His farewell tour ended the longest partnership in jazz; at nearly 80 years old, Halcox had finally tired of the travelling.

Pat Halcox was born in Chelsea in 1930 – and his parents thought that he might be a childhood prodigy, as he was playing the piano from the age of four. He stopped a few years later, but he returned to the instrument in 1945. He played boogie woogie and formed a makeshift jazz band with his friend Mick Mulligan.

Halcox was conscripted in 1948 and was asked to play trombone in an RAF band. No sooner had he learnt the instrument than he was switched to trumpet. He was to cite his influences as Muggsy Spanier, Tommy Ladnier and Louis Armstrong.

In 1950, Halcox worked in a laboratory and studied for a degree in chemistry, save for the evenings when he was playing with Colin Kingwell and the Brent Valley Stompers. They won a talent contest organised by the detergent Whisk; as a result, they received huge quantities of the product.

In 1952, Halcox joined the Albermarle Jazz Band and they secured a residency at the White Hart in Southall. Meanwhile, the trombonist Chris Barber and the clarinetist Monty Sunshine were forming their own professional group and wanted Halcox on trumpet. A club session in Soho in December went well, but Halcox's parents persuaded him to stick with his studies.

Barber and Sunshine had a prickly relationship with their trumpeter, Ken Colyer. Halcox was impressed by their performances, but in May 1954 the whole band deserted Colyer – and this time Halcox was ready to join. Even then he planned to play for a couple of years to get it out of his system and then become a research scientist.

Having a strong business sense, Barber was an excellent bandleader. Halcox told me, "The whole basis of jazz is that the collective thing is bigger than any individual; and even though Chris is the bandleader and makes the final decisions, he does give everybody the chance to express themselves. I don't think I'd have been in the band so long if I hadn't had that chance."

Many American artists toured the UK with the band, including Muddy Waters, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Recordings of these artists with the band have been released, and one of Halcox's favourite albums was Take Me Back to New Orleans (1980), which the Barber band made with Dr John.

The 1950s albums that the Barber band made for Decca and Pye have been reissued many times. They include New Orleans Joys (1954), Echoes of Harlem (1955) and several "in concert" albums. Halcox has notable solos on "Bugle Boy March" and "You Took Advantage of Me" (both 1958).

Halcox only played a minor role on the band's biggest success, "Petite Fleur" (1959). "I turned the amplifier up for the guitar solo. Monty was playing in this rather weird key of B flat minor. We later found that his record player had been running fast and Sidney Bechet's original recording was really in A Minor."

The triumvirate of Barber, Bilk and Ball led the Trad boom, but Halcox could see it wouldn't last. "The Trad boom made us more popular certainly, but it led to a proliferation of bad bands. More and more clubs were opening and the craze more or less killed itself as the clubs were hiring those bad bands."

The band played on the soundtracks of Look Back in Anger (1959) and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962) and are featured in It's Trad, Dad! (1962). The same year, they also played in a jazz concert in Washington for President Kennedy.

The Barber band maintained an astonishing workload and Halcox would even guest with other bands on nights off. In 1977, when Barber took a summer break, Halcox formed his own All Star Band and continued this for several summers. He undertook cruise work and played on sessions, notably Elton John's album A Single Man (1978). Another passion in Halcox's life was photography and his work is in many of the band's programmes.

Halcox was an affable, friendly man, always willing to help up-and-coming musicians. Indeed, many of the current Barber band acknowledge their debt to him. He said, "I always did it for the music. It was much more important than the money."

Pat Halcox, trumpeter: born Chelsea 18 March 1930; married (one son); died 5 February 2013.

News
Jennifer Lawrence was among the stars allegedly hacked
peopleActress and 100 others on 'master list' after massive hack
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

PPC Co-Ordinator – Permanent - West Sussex – £24-£30k

£24000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Are you a Marketin...

Senior Asset Manager

£70000 - £75000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Katie Robinson +44 (...

IT Support Analyst (2nd Line Support) - City, London

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare: Ashdown Group: IT Support Ana...

KS1 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: KS1 Teaching Specialist Leic...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor