While we were in New Orleans, we had the distinct pleasure of experiencing the incomparable Lucien Barbarin and his band at Irvin Mayfield’s beautiful Bourbon Street jazz club. A native and life-long resident of New Orleans, Lucien was born into a family of world renowned jazz musicians that have shaped New Orleans jazz for five generations; Lucien is the nephew of the legendary Paul Barbarin who wrote and performed with Jazz pioneers that include Henry “Red” Allen, Sidney Bechet, Joe “King” Oliver and Louis Armstrong. Additionally, Lucien is second cousin to jazz great Danny Barker, and thus represents the best of an evolving musical tradition. He nurtures that tradition through his artistry and commitment to live performances and recordings that never fail to illustrate the elegance, humor and flavor that is the heart of Traditional New Orleans Jazz.
Born in New Orleans in 1956, Lucien’s unique musical education began when he performed at age six with his Uncle Paul Barbarin and the Onward Brass Band. Over time, Lucien expanded his mastery of jazz instruments to include the tuba, baritone, and drums, playing first-rate venues on Bourbon Street and remaining an active player with local brass bands, jazz festivals, and street parades.
In 1990, Lucien joined the big band of Harry Connick, Jr., and has remains a steady musical collaborator with Mr. Connick to this day, having recorded several critically acclaimed albums as a sideman with Connick, including the Grammy-Award winning “Songs I Heard” in 2001. Lucien continues to thrill audiences worldwide as a featured performer with Harry Connick’s Big Band, most notably on the song “Luscious.” A favorite with fans, “Luscious” was written by Harry specifically for Lucien to display his many talents. When not on tour, the New Orleans native can regularly be heard performing at the famous Palm Court Jazz Café, Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse and the esteemed Preservation Hall. Lucien continues to make significant contributions to the future of traditional jazz on the stage and in his personal life. As the proud father of five children, each of whom show promising musical talent, the Barbarin Family Jazz tradition will continue to thrive.