Australian Bob Barnard is the cleanest and most cliche-free cornet player I have ever heard'
So wrote the jazz reviewer of the Allegheny Jazz Society (Pennsylvania USA). In an area where the best jazz musicians in the world are regularly heard that is some praise indeed. Critics to the likes of Louis Armstrong, Bobby Hackett and Billy Butterfield among others have compared his style favourably. But as this review suggests, he has reached a point where he plays in such a pure and natural style that comparisons are perhaps not so appropriate.
To ask him about his style one finds out that he does not regard himself as a trad or old-fashioned player. He says he plays a style that began with Louis Armstrong: "It's a classic style, if you like, that comes up through Bunny Berrigan, Bobby Hackett, Ruby Braff and Warren Vache". Barnard's is the perfect mainstream style, a cross between the lyricism and drive that a trumpet can achieve.
In the Melbourne Age Adrian Jackson asked him how his playing has changed over the years: "It has changed, but very gradually. I'm a bit more sophisticated in my outlook, and in my playing. But it's still basically me. The way I play is the way I play ... maybe others are in a better position to judge."
Jazz festivals and clubs all over the world present Barnard and the response is seldom less than enthusiastic. Reviews are seldom less than rave, from the Melbourne Age to the El Mercurio (Santiago, Chile), from The Sydney Morning Herald to the Jazz Journal International or rapport (Los Angeles).
Making his first record at the age of sixteen, Bob was already recognised as one of Australia's most outstanding jazz players before he was twenty years old. Since that time he has become an icon of Australian jazz, and has probably made more of an impression internationally than anyone in his field