Danny Barker (1909-1994) was born into that generation of musicians whose lives reflected the arc of jazz from men blowing horns atop mule-drawn wagons to the world stage. From New Orleans to New York and back again, he managed to be both a witness and participant in the evolution of the music.
As a banjo player and rhythm guitarist, his discography reads like no other. Barker played with Jelly Roll Morton and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, with Dr. John and Dexter Gordon, with Billie Holiday and Cab Calloway. In all, he’s believed to have appeared on more than a thousand recordings. The plaque at his birthplace on Chartres Street in the French Quarter says so. And the discography at the back of his memoir, “A Life of Jazz,” presents the spectacular journey of a musician who never considered himself a virtuoso.