Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Barnett, Anthony (Peter John)
Barnett, Anthony (Peter John), author, percussionist, publisher, record producer; b. London, England, of Polish and Lithuanian (on mother's side) and Russian, Dutch and Spanish (on father's side) ancestry.
Barnett only had a few lessons on trombone at school. He was self-taught on percussion his early influences being Big Sid Catlett (stick work), Dave Tough (brush work) with Milford Graves as a later influence. He received his M.A. in Comparative Literature (Theory and Practice of Literary Translation) from the University of Essex (1979).
At an early age, he discovered his father's jazz records (his father heard Duke Ellington in London in 1933), including two by Stuff Smith and His Onyx Club Boys, which he began to accompany with brushes on his mother's hat boxes. He Played congas and bongos with amateur and semi-professional groups late 1950s-early 1960s and a date with Mike Westbrook at Ronnie Scott's when Westbrook's drummer broke his snare.
He has contributed articles on jazz to periodicals. He first met Stuff Smith at Annie Ross's club Annie's Room in 1965. He visited Smith in Paris that year and in Copenhagen in 1966 at which time he also first visited John Tchicai. Thereafter, he produced early London recitals of free improvisation at Better Books Basement (off Charing Cross Road near the Little Theatre Club) with Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, John Stevens, etc.
He was a member of the ensemble in the first London performance of Annea Lockwood's Glass Concert at the Arts Theatre Club. He began to produce concerts with Tchicai: Cadentia Nova Danica in 1968 in London (the first, contrary to other spurious claims, identified jazz concert at the Wigmore Hall); the huge Natural Music free improvisation concert in 1969 in Cambridge, in which Yoko Ono and, by default, John Lennon also participated (complete tapes extant). Moved to Denmark in 1969 to play percussion for the next two and a half years with Tchicai's augmented Cadentia Nova Danica, broadcasting, touring, and recording.
During this period began to use ethnic and "junk" percussion with ethnic string and wind instruments and took a trombone solo on a Tchicai broadcast. He recorded two albums as a member of legendary Danish folk group Furekaaben (an approximate description would be a rough and ready impro-blend of a Danish Bob Dylan and the Incredible String Band). He organized and played a series of club dates with Johnny Mbizo Dyani (tapes stolen) and a concert at the Copenhagen Conservatory of Music with Don Cherry (tapes erased). He also played a broadcast concert with Tchicai plus Cherry. In 1971, Danmarks Radio broadcast his Poem About Music in which he read and directed an assembly of musicians drawn from Cadentia Nova Danica, including Tchicai, and Furekaaben.
He moved to Norway in 1972 and concentrated on literary work. He still played occasionally: congas with Stanton Davis group including Jan Garbarek at Club 7 and a broadcast with Tchicai. Visited England in 1974 for a reading of Poem About Music accompanied by Derek Bailey at the Cambridge Poetry Festival. He returned to England 1976 where he made regular contributions to the periodical Musics and played often at London Musicians' Collective and in Bristol. He organized and played, often in a percussion duo with Roy Ashbury, recitals at Essex University with Leo Smith (short review by Val Wilmer in Melody Maker, 5 Nov 1977), Bailey, Tchicai.
Barnett appeared at 1977 Cambridge Poetry Festival with the percussion duo and Tchicai sharing the bill, and the final set, with Bailey and Tristan > Honsinger. He organized and played Eastern Arts tour Composed Poetry and Improvised Music, with Evan Parker, trumpetist William Embling, and writer Douglas Oliver, in which he read his poetry and played percussion. He also taught English at the Technical Institute of University of Nice in 1980 and performed that year at L'Atalier art gallery in a duo with American flutist Clint Jackson.
During the late 1980s, Barnett ceased playing regularly to concentrate on literary work and research into the history of jazz violin, initially Stuff Smith. He became a visiting scholar in literature at Meiji University, Tokyo, spring 2002. As a record producer, he released on AB Fable in 2002 the first Violin Improvisation Studies CDs of previously unreleased material by Ray Perry and Stuff Smith followed by releases of rare Eddie South, Ginger Smock, Ray Nance with Ben Webster on clarinet and early bebop violinists.
John Tchicai and Cadentia Nova Danica: Afrodisiaca (1969); Many hours of tapes of broadcasts and concerts including with Derek Bailey, William Embling, Clint Jackson, Will Menter, Evan Parker, Leo Smith, John Tchicai; Natural Music concert; Composed Poetry and Improvised Music tour; two recitations of Poem About Music: with Tchicai, with Bailey. Tape of Milford Graves and John Tchicai in New York in which Tchicai recites variations of Barnett's poem "Blood Flow" in call and response with the audience. Interviewed in radio histories of jazz violin in USA (NPR) and Europe
Music Writings: Books
Desert Sands: The Recordings and Performances of Stuff Smith: An Annotated Discography and Biographical Source Book (1995)
supplement: Up Jumped the Devil (1998) [ARSC awards finalist]
Black Gypsy: The Recordings of Eddie South: An Annotated Discography and Itinerary (1999) [ARSC awards finalist]
Stuff Smith, ed. Barnett, Pure at Heart: Anecdotes and Interviews, 2nd augmented ed., (2002 [1st ed. 1991])
Listening for Henry Crowder: A Monograph on His Almost Lost Music (2007) [includes CD]
Music Writings: liner notes
The Complete Verve Stuff Smith Sessions (Mosaic, 1999)
Other liner notes on violinists for AB Fable, Frog, Hep, Jazz Oracle, Soundies, Storyville
Music Writings: periodicals and contributions to other books:
"An Introductory 'Conversation' with John Tchicai" in Mike Hames, The Music of John Tchicai on Disc and Tape (1975, 2nd expanded ed., 1979)
Edited the literature, art and music review Nothing Doing in London (1966-1968) which printed scores by John Tchicai and Carla Bley
Occasional contributor to various periodicals (1960s-1980s) including Jazz Monthly, Jazz Beat, The Guardian, The Independent
Regular contributor to
Musics (London, 1970s)
Editor, Fable Bulletin: Violin Improvisation Studies, four vols. in thirteen parts (1993-2000, cont. online from 2001 on www.abar.net) [recipient of ARSC support grant]
Contributor on violin and violinists to New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians, 2nd ed. (2000) and New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 2nd. ed. (2001)
Regular Contributor and Editorial Consultant to Shuffle Boil: A Magazine of Poets and Music (Berkeley CA, Listening Chamber, from 2001)
"In Time: A Not-So-Brief History of the Swing to Recorded Bebop and Progressive Violin", Parts 1-4, Fiddler Magazine, vol. ix, no. 4 through vol. x, no. 3 (winter 2002/2003 through fall 2003) revised and expanded as
"In Time: a Not-So-Brief Account of The Hidden History of The Swing to Recorded Bebop and Progressive Violin in America and Europe" (2005) booklet with double CD: I Like Be I Like Bop
"Electric Violins and Jazz Violinists 1930s-1950s" at MelBay's online Fiddle Sessions (February, April, June 2006)
The Poetry of Anthony Barnett, ed. M. Grant (1993) includes an interview, which discusses music and literature, with the black English writer D. S. Marriott, letters by Paul Auster and J. H. Prynne, and critical essays. Many volumes of poetry and short prose, represented in anthologies, collected poetry to 1999 is accessible online to institutional subscribers of ProQuest/Chadwyck-Healey Literature.
email: visit website
14 Mount Street, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 1HL England
Tel: 01273 479393 / International: +44 1273 479393
Allardyce, Barnett, Publishers / Fable Recording and Bulletin: Violin Improvisation Studies