Bell Award for Best Traditional Jazz Album: Leigh Barker and The New Sheiks

Leigh Barker at the Bell Awards

Leigh Barker and the Bell Awards

IN MAY 2011 Leigh Barker was awarded the Australian Jazz Bell Award in the ‘Best Traditional Jazz Album’ category for his CD – THE NEW SHEIKS – with his six-piece band of the same name.

The New Sheiks

The New Sheiks CD

‘The New Sheiks’ CD and band feature Leigh on the double bass, Eamon McNelis on trumpet, Don Stewart on trombone, Matt Boden on piano and piano accordion, and Al McGrath-Kerr on drums. The CD also features renowned Melbourne blues singer, Heather Stewart. In 2011 Heather won the ‘Vic/Tas Blues Awards’ for best debut album and best female artist, and in 2010 won the award for best self-produced album.

Leigh Barker

Leigh at the Amora Riverwalk Hotel, Richmond with Smithy's Trio

LEIGH has been adapting the early blues material and combining it with jazz and compositions from the other band members, to create a mix of Jazz, Swing and Blues that is unique and accessible.

EAMON is well known to jazz audiences around Australia, and is a master of all styles of the trumpet from the history of jazz. In 2010 he won the ‘National Jazz Award’ at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival.

DON STEWART has played around the world with the finest traditional Jazz groups, including the Graeme Bell band and Fireworks Jazz. He is also a member of popular Melbourne group ‘The Band Who Knew Too Much’.

Pianist MATT BODEN lives in Paris but is originally Tasmanian. His dedication to swing and real acoustic music means that he plays a piano accordion when there is no piano available.

Drummer AL MCGRATH KERR has played with many Australian greats and also opened a concert for Cuban piano master Chucho Valdes in 2010.

CD Baby You can buy a copy through CD Baby (click on the image to the left), through reputable shops such as Readings in Carlton, Basement Discs in the City, or a new boutique music chain called Title with stores in Fitzroy, Northcote and Brunswick. Or straight from the horse’s mouth by emailing Leigh

Barker has toured Australia extensively, usually with a Quintet. In 2010 he was asked to be the support act for jazz superstar Branford Marsalis, which culminated with Leigh performing an encore with Branford at the Sydney Opera House.

Barker with Branford Marsalis

Barker with Branford Marsalis

In other guises Leigh played with George Washingmachine at the Victorian Jazz Club gig on 19 November 2011, and with Hetty Kate and The Irwell Street String Orchestra on 12 November 2011 for the same club

Here’s a clip from the Washingmachine gig. With George are Andy Swann on drums (recently returned from touring Europe with The Syncopators), Leigh Barker on bass, and Sam Lemann on guitar. There’ll be more of this ineffable performance in a later post.

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