"Lucien Barbarin is recognized as one of the finest practitioners of traditional jazz trombone in the world today, and is highly regarded for both his audience-thrilling live performances and his recordings."
If "tradition" is defined by the sharing of values and ideas from one generation to the next, no one embodies the spirit of traditional jazz more than Lucien. Nephew of Paul Barbarin and second cousin to Danny Barker, Mr. Barbarin is part of a veritable jazz family that has shaped New Orleans jazz from its early roots. He represents the best of an ongoing musical tradition, a tradition that continues to thrive in the hands of his masterful musicianship. Mr. Barbarin’s powerful performances capture the subtle contrast of elegance and humor that is the very heart of Traditional New Orleans Jazz.
Born in New Orleans on July 17, 1956, Lucien’s unique musical education began very soon thereafter. He first performed at age six with his Uncle Paul Barbarin and the Onward Brass Band. Lucien expanded his on-the-job training during the sixties, taking the opportunity to master additional instruments including the tuba, baritone, and drums. In 1971, he joined his cousin Danny Barker as founding members of the now famous Fairview Baptist Christian Church Band. Aside from Lucien Barbarin, the Fairview Church boasted the burgeoning talents of Leroy Jones, Dr. Michael White, and Herlin Riley. Later, Lucien continued to hone his craft while working on Bourbon Street. His inspired performances could be heard at numerous venues including the Maison Bourbon, the Court of Two Sisters, and Crazy Shirley’s. During this time, Mr. Barbarin remained active with local brass bands, jazz festivals, and street parades.
Lucien’s first recording appeared in 1976: "Hurricane Jazz Band," was recorded by the Hurricane Jazz Band, a native New Orleans group. At the same time, Lucien solidified his reputation as one of New Orleans’ most sought-after musicians. For almost a decade, he worked steadily at the Famous Door and the La Strada Club with June Gardner and the New Orleans Finest. The early 80’s saw Mr. Barbarin achieve international acclaim, as he toured Europe with the bands of Wallace Davenport, Lars Edegran, and The Young Tuxedo Brass Band. Recognized for his amazing contributions, in 1983, Lucien was awarded the title, Honorary Goodwill Ambassador of Amsterdam.
In 1988, Lucien recorded his first album as a leader. "Trombone Tradition" with The Henri Chaix Trio, features Mr. Barbarin’s inspired playing and leadership. That same year, Lucien embarked on a school tour funded by the Arts in Education program of the New Orleans public schools. As "Dr. Jazz," Lucien has given more than 60 performances for New Orleans public school children, depicting the history of jazz through music and storytelling.
In 1990, Lucien joined the big band of Harry Connick, Jr., and has maintained a steady musical collaboration with Mr. Connick since that time. Lucien’s years with Connick have brought him around the world to Japan, Australia, and Southeast Asia. In addition, he has recorded several critically acclaimed albums as a sideman with Connick, including the recent Grammy-award winning "Songs I Heard" in 2001.
During the late 90’s, Lucien worked with Wynton Marsalis, including a performance at the 1996 Olympic Closing Ceremonies. In 1998, he performed with Teddy Edwards and Harry "Sweets" Edison at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s "Battle of the Bucket" concert, where Marsalis serves as Artistic Director. In 1997, Lucien recorded with Marsalis on "Standard Time Vol. 6: Mr. Jelly Lord," Marsalis’ famous tribute to Jelly Roll Morton. Since then, Lucien has worked periodically with Marsalis, notably including the J@LC’s centennial tribute to the life of Louis Armstrong of the 2000-2001 concert season.
The late 90’s and the new millennium have brought continued success for Barbarin. Over the last five years, he has worked or recorded with jazz masters Doc Cheatham, Nicholas Payton, Leroy Jones, Jay McShann, Dr. Michael White, Lionel Hampton, Steve Turre, Theodore Riles, Don Vappie, Perry and Willie Humphrey, and Kermit Ruffins. Mr. Barbarin has played nearly every major jazz festival across the world, including the Jazz and Heritage Festival, North Sea, Montreux, Munich, Nice, and Capitol Radio in London.
In the year 2000, "Lucien Barbarin and the Palm Court Swingsters" marked his second album as a leader. That same year, he performed with Diane Reeves and Dr. Michael White for the President’s White House Millennium Celebration. During 2001 and 2002, Lucien has been thrilling audiences world-wide as a featured performer with Harry Connick’s Big Band, most notably on the song "Luscious." A favorite with fans, "Luscious," was written by Harry specifically for Lucien and showcases his many talents.
While not on tour, this New Orleans native can regularly be heard performing at the famous Palm Court Jazz Café and the esteemed Preservation Hall. Lucien is making serious contributions for the future of traditional jazz. He is the proud father of five children, each of whom show promising signs that the Barbarin Family Jazz tradition will continue to thrive.