CHRIS BARBER, Grand Old Man of British Jazz at 87, returned to Brighton.

Not at the Dome where I first encountered him almost 60 years ago, but on the other side of the road at the Theatre Royal. His current tour celebrates his 68 years scene as musician, band leader and recording artist.

During that period he has masterminded the evolution from a six piece traditional New Orleans jazz line-up to ten fine musicians emulating the big band style of jazz played in New York and Chicago. Along the way he embraced Rhythm & Blues and brought to England many legendary Blues and Gospel singers.

When Barber shuffled on to the stage he was greeted with a tumultuous ovation. Whilst he may have aged in face and body his trombone playing stamina remains as strong as ever. He was on stage for two hours playing lustily, singing and introducing numbers, adding historical background and anecdotes.

The programme dug deeply into Duke Ellington’s compositions, all skilfully arranged by Bob Hunt. These allowed the musicians to fully stretch themselves blending harmonies, reproducing the Ellington style of piercing high notes, dirty low growling and, of course, pulsating rhythms.

East St Louis Toodle-Oo included some fine muted trumpet work whilst Black and Tan Fantasy’s sombre start provided some haunting trombone duets before the full band joined in.

This number segued into The Mooche where the rhythm section added some interesting variations No salute to Ellington would be complete without the full band launching into the powerhouse that is Rocking In Rhythm.

Never forgetting his roots Barber returned to the traditional line-up with Wild Cat Blues and, to the audible delight of his fans, a refreshed version of Petite Fleur. At the end Barber was left alone on stage to receive a well deserved ovation.