Jazz fans may know Danny Barker for his work with Cab Calloway or for training a generation of New Orleans jazz and brass band leaders as mentor of the Fairview Baptist Church Christian Band, which included Lucien Barbarin, Leroy Jones and others. Barker also spent much time communicating with musicians and compiling a history of jazz from their perspectives. Barker felt music journalists had not gotten the story right.
Much of Barker's work made it into print in
A Life in Jazz, edited by British journalist Alyn Shipton and published in 1986. In it, Barker recounts his early life in New Orleans and his storied career, during which the banjoist appeared on hundreds of records and performed with countless jazz luminaries.
The Historic New Orleans Collection has compiled a new edition of the book, with further editing by Shipton, an introduction by Gwen Thompkins (host of public radio's Music Inside Out), more vintage photos, a detailed discography and a song catalog. The release party includes interviews with Shipton, Tulane University jazz historian Bruce Raeburn, drummer Shannon Powell, banjoist Seva Venet and others. The Shannon Powell Traditional Jazz Band will perform music by Barker.