EASTLEIGH’S Concorde Club, which has become an international jazz mecca, will be rolling out the red carpet for jazz royalty next week.

One of Britain’s best loved band leaders, Chris Barber will be returning to headline on Wednesday at a club where he has been a regular since the 50s.

He inspired young musicians like Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger to start playing the blues and was the architect of the 60s blues-rock explosion which gave birth to rock giants like The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.

Barber was only 19 when in 1949 he formed his own New Orleans band. In 1953, along with Monty Sunshine and king of skiffle Lonnie Donegan, he joined forces with Ken Colyer.

With the replacement of Colyer by Pat Halcox, Ken Colyer's Jazzmen became Chris Barber's Jazz Band in 1954 and it has been one of Europe's most successful traditional jazz outfits ever since.

Over the years, Chris Barber's Jazz Band evolved into the Chris Barber Jazz and Blues Band, a richly-textured eight-piece group, blending brass, reeds, and electric guitar into a unique and unmistakable mix of blues and jazz.

They have performed at more than 10,000 concerts and made thousands of recordings and at the end of 2001 Chris extended his band with three more musicians into The Big Chris Barber Band.

In the late 50s and early 60s, he was the principal organiser of the first UK tours of blues greats, including Muddy Waters, from across the Atlantic.

The 87 year-old musician is still going strong on the jazz circuit across the UK and Europe with The Big Chris Barber Band.

And it was at the Stoneham Lane club that the legendary trombone player received the accolade of British Blues Great awarded by the Blues In the South Magazine.

Box office: 023 8061 3989 or theconcordeclub.com