The Roger Barbour Quartet swings as cool as ice on “Misty” in an outdoor concert in Pittsburgh, PA. And in quintet formation, he uses delicacy and sweet tones to launch into Turrentine’s “Sugar.”
Though Barbour, a trumpet and flugelhorn player, now mostly plays event music and community concerts, he has a fifty-year tradition of hard grooves and smooth licks. No matter the ensemble size, this man has the chops and molecular knowledge of jazz to entertain to the fullest.
How old when you realized you wanted to play trumpet?
12 years old. We were so poor that my parents could not afford an instrument. When my oldest brother went to the Army he left his trumpet for me.
What was your musical training like?
My first training was in the junior high school band.
Was it hard getting started?
No, I had an excellent band leader and teacher who was very encouraging.
When and why did you form your quartet?
I had been playing as a sideman with different bands for many years, but the desire was always there to form my own group. I formed the group in 1994.
Talk about your personnel, the strengths each one brings to your sound.
The main person who is probably the heart and soul of the band is drummer Vince Taglieri. He has a special touch for each song no matter what it is and very reliable. Occasionally, I use different piano players as well as bass players, but all are professionals with many years of experience.
How would you describe your own musical style?
Which jazz icons have inspired you?
Clifford Brown and Lee Morgan.
What are the biggest changes you have seen in the music industry ASIDE from technology?
The popularity change from straight-ahead jazz which I like the most to smooth jazz, hip-hop and rap music.
Do you think jazz is still growing and changing?
Yes. There are so many young musicians coming out of colleges really playing great jazz that I am convinced it will continue to grow and change.
How did it feel to be inducted into the PB Jazz Hall of Fame? What year was that?
The year was 2012. I felt really honored to be selected.
What is the jazz scene like in Pittsburgh?
Alive and well. You can find somewhere to go to listen to good jazz seven nights a week. I travel a lot and other than New York, I don’t see this happening in other cities.
What is your favorite venue in the U.S.?
Cioppino’s Restaurant in the Strip District [Pittsburgh].
What is your favorite place in the world to play?
Played at Caesar’s Palace with a group from Chicago. Would like to do it again.
When was the CD “Misty” released? What is most memorable about it?
Year 2002. It was originally intended to be just a demo recording.
What’s your favorite track on that?
“Misty” because of the outstanding sax playing by Jay Willis.
Why do you think the classic melodies like “Shadow of your Smile” still resonate with audiences?
Those are songs that most people like, know and relate to.
Why do you think Christmas and jazz go so well together?
Most jazz lovers also get caught up in the holiday spirit when Christmas rolls around. It’s like you can have your cake and eat it too. I have a Christmas CD out right now with jazzy Christmas tunes and people seem to like it.
Plans for 2018?
I have several gigs coming up just around the Tri-State area. i don’t really plan on doing any tours this year.
Thanks for considering me to do this interview.
For more information, visit www.rogerbarbourmusic.com.
Photos courtesy of and with permission of Roger Barbour.
(c) Debbie Burke 2018