Charlie Barnet

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Charlie Barnet (1946)
photograph by William P. Gottlieb .

Charlie Barnet (actually: Charles Daly Barnet ; born October 26, 1913 in New York City , † September 4, 1991 in San Diego , California ) was an American jazz saxophonist and band leader .

Live and act

Barnet came from a wealthy family; His mother's father had been the first vice president of the New York Central Railroad . His family wanted him to learn the piano; but he wanted a drum kit. When he was twelve he got a C melody saxophone . Barnet's parents had envisaged a legal career for him; Barnet instead went on a transatlantic liner as a member of a band at the age of sixteen. He became known in jazz circles in 1932 as the leader of a commercial dance band at the Paramount Hotel in New York. In 1933 he presented his first major band, in which some major musicians later played, Eddie Sauter and Tutti Camarata . During this time Barnet also acted as a singer.

As a soloist he became known from 1934 in recordings of the Red Norvo Octet , in which Teddy Wilson , Artie Shaw and others also participated ( I Surrender Dear and The Night Is Blue ). In 1936, when he was performing with his band at the Glen Island Casino , he also worked with the vocal group The Modernaires , later known as Glenn Miller . In September 1936 he achieved his first chart success with the ensemble with Bye-Bye, Baby (# 16); in the subsequent hit Sing, Baby, Sing (# 6), Barnet took over the vocal part himself, which only happened occasionally. After Did You Mean It? (# 10), also sung by him, Barnet did not return to the charts until 1939.

Like Miller, Barnet recorded almost exclusively for Bluebird Records . Important musicians in this phase were John Kirby and Frankie Newton . In 1942 he switched to the American branch of Decca Records ; He entered the new R&B charts ("Harlem Hit Parade") with the Ellington title Things Ain't That What They Used to Be . In the second half of the 1940s there were recordings for Apollo Records and from 1949 recordings for Capitol Records . His last hit came with his version of the currently popular Slim Gaillard song Cement Mixer (Put-Ti, Put-Ti) in June 1946.

Barnet's band became famous in 1939 with their version of Cherokee , a popular Ray Noble song that Billy May had arranged for Barnet and which became the band's new signature tune (previously it was Vernon Duke's New York Nocturne ). In the same year the band was engaged in the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles when a fire destroyed all of their instruments, sheet music and uniforms. He subsequently worked with the singers Bob Carroll , Harry von Zell , Mary Ann McCall , Frances Wayne , Fran Warren , Dave Lambert , Kay Starr and Buddy Stewart and made several recordings with Lena Horne in 1941 . In his band at that time Al Killian , Peanuts Holland , Oscar Pettiford , Neal Hefti , Barney Kessel , Buddy DeFranco , Trummy Young and Dodo Marmarosa appeared; the arranger was the pianist Ralph Burns . In 1944 he worked in the musical film Music in Manhattan .

In 1947 he changed style to bebop and performed with artists such as Doc Severinsen , Clark Terry and Maynard Ferguson . In the 1950s, Barnet retired from the professional music business and moved to the west coast of Palm Springs . He only occasionally led his own band. In the mid-1960s he briefly led a big band that had been specially organized for a two-week short engagement in Basin 'Street East in New York. His last recording was released in 1966.

Rex Stewart (right) and Charlie Barnet, Aquarium, New York City, Circa August 1946
Photograph by William P. Gottlieb

Discographic notes


  • George T. Simon : The Golden Era of Big Bands. Hannibal, Höfen 2004, ISBN 3-854-45243-8 .
  • Dan Mather: Charlie Barnet. An Illustrated Biography and Discography. Jefferson (NC) / London 2002, ISBN 0-7864-1048-5 .
  • Simon, George T .: The Big Bands . With a foreword by Frank Sinatra. 3rd revised edition. New York City, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co and London: Collier Macmillan Publishers, 1974, pp. 74-78.

Web links

Commons : Charlie Barnet  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files