HE IS Britain’s Godfather of Jazz who laid the tracks for a blues rock explosion which gave birth to rock giants like The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.

I have literally grown up with the Chris Barber Band. For it was in 1949 when I was making my debut in the world that the jazz legend was launching his own New Orleans style band.

Sixty eight years on and Barber is centre stage at The Concorde while I am in the audience writing this review.

He has been a regular headliner since the club was tucked into the backroom of The Bassett in Burgess Road, Southampton.

So it was fitting that the jazz icon’s latest appearance should coincide with the club’s 60th anniversary.

He was greeted with rapturous applause from a full house as the Stoneham Lane club rolled out the red carpet for jazz royalty.

These days a Chris Barber gig is accompanied by the latest technical wizardry with the sound deck, placed discreetly in the background, magically mixing it altogether.

This giant of jazz still delivers the distinctive sounds which he was treating audiences to many decades ago and long before the digital age.

He did not disappoint his latest audience as he and his fellow master musicians laced jazz with blistering blues.

The multi-talented ten-piece band opened the first set with their signature tune and Dixieland classic, Bourbon Street Parade.

Switching from trombone to vocals Barber gave a moving version of the gospel song, Take My Hand Precious Lord and Goin’ Home by British jazz legend Ken Colyer.

A New Orleans music devotee, Colyer was at one time a Barber bandmate.

The first set was rounded off with Duke Ellington’s very upbeat Merry Go Round with sizzling solos from Mike “Magic” Henry (trumpet and cornet) and Bert Brandsma weaving his magic on the clarinet.

There was also a fine interpretation of American jazz piano king Fats Waller’s Wild Cat Blues.

If I had to choose, the second set was my favourite which was heavily influenced by the blues which has run through the band’s history.

The centrepiece was a catchy little number called Cornbread, Peas and Black Molasses, a delicacy eaten by prisoners in Pennsylvania and the recipe for a rousing round of audience handclapping.

The band dipped into the score sheets of that originator of big band jazz, Duke Ellington, with Black & Tan Fantasy and Rockin’ In Rhythm.

There was soulful blues from the works of another legendary American jazz bandleader legend, Miles Davis, with his spellbinding All Blues composition.

On the night that Saints narrowly missed sharing the points with the mighty Manchester City, the Barber Band rounded off the evening with the St Mary’s anthem When the Saints Go Marching In.

The American gospel tune traditionally brings down the curtain on Barber gigs. But it was the 1944 New Orleans flavoured jazz standard Ice Cream (you scream, we all scream for ice) which was the topping to an evening of entertainment from a jazz star whose cool music still goes marching on.