Last Updated: 2022
Alan Barnes is a prolific international performer, composer, arranger, bandleader and touring soloist. He is best known for his work on clarinet, alto and baritone sax, where he combines a formidable virtuosity with a musical expression and collaborative spirit that have few peers.
His range and brilliance have made him a “first call” for studio and live work since his precocious arrival on the scene more than thirty years ago.
His recorded catalogue is immense. He has made over thirty albums as leader and co-leader alone, and the list of his session and side-man work includes Bjork, Bryan Ferry, Michel LeGrande, Clare Teale, Westlife, Jools Holland and Jamie Cullum. He has toured and played residencies with such diverse and demanding figures as Ruby Braff, Freddie Hubbard, Scott Hamilton, Warren Vache, Ken Peplowski, Harry Allen and Conte Candoli.
In British jazz, the young Barnes was recognized – and hired – by the established greats of the time: Stan Tracy, John Dankworth, Kenny Baker, Bob Wilber, and Humphrey Lyttelton. But he is equally respected for his longstanding and fruitful collaborations with contemporaries such as David Newton, Bruce Adams, and Martin Taylor.
Alan Barnes’s unique musicianship, indefatigable touring, and warm rapport with audiences have made him uniquely popular in British jazz. He has received over 25 British Jazz Awards, most recently in 2014 for clarinet, and has twice been made BBC Jazz Musician of the Year.
Barnes’ melodic sense bypasses the usual scale-running clichés that pepper the playing of lesser bop disciples.
Peter Marsh, BBC Music Review.
His stylistic range is quite phenomenal… He has a wonderful capacity for suggesting a given style without actually imitating anyone.
Dave Gelly, Masters Of The Jazz Saxophone.
I was relishing the prospect of Barnes’s casually consummate musicianship, deadpan humour (he could be a comedian, if jazz ever fails him), and indomitable belief in a respected place for the music’s rich history in this eclectic and often forgetful world.
John Fordham - The Guardian.
Barnes plays music that was radical 50 years ago but he infuses it with so much passion and energy you could believe it was minted on the spot, which is always part of the story with jazz.
John L. Walters, The Guardian.