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Carl Barriteau

Carl Barriteau was born in Trinidad, West Indies in 1914. He received his first musical tuition at the Belmont Orphanage in Trinidad and later gigged with Bert McLean's Jazz Hounds before moving to Britain in May, 1937. Twelve days later he joined Ken "Snakehips" Johnson's band to play alto sax and clarinet. The clarinet had now become his main instrument and his style became nearer to Artie Shaw than Benny Goodman. He worked with Johnson until the air raid at the Café de Paris in March, 1941 that killed the leader and seriously injured Barriteau with a broken wrist. Later in 1941, Barriteau reformed Johnson's band for a handful of Jazz Jamboree concerts and some BBC dates before forming his own band at the Cotton Club. Work followed with Lew Stone, Ambrose, Hatchett's Swingtette and Geraldo before he formed his own West Indian Dance Orchestra for gigs and radio work in May 1942. For the rest of the war, he led his own bands for radio, variety tours and in 1945 toured Europe for ENSA. After the war he continued to lead his band for a variety of club and one-night stands and from May 1949 had a two year residency at the Eldorado Ballroom in Leith, Scotland. He was with Cyril Stapleton for almost a year up to March 1952 when he reformed his own band. This was a 10-piece, and was quite successful, coming fourth in both the Melody Maker and New Musical Express Swing Polls of 1954. Pete King, co-owner of Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club was a member of his band. As a soloist, Barriteau won the Melody Maker Clarinet Poll seven years in a row. His ability was held in such regard that he worked with contemporary acts of the 50’s, such as The Platters. In 1957 he switched to a solo career, also working as a double act with Mae Cooper his wife and he appeared on television in the UK, Belgium and Holland. In 1970s they emigrated to Australia and continued to tour extensively throughout Australasia and the Orient, and also played on cruise liners. He eventually becoming an Australian citizen and died in August 1998.

Source: David H. Taylor


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