He was a trombonist, arranger and producer born Barron
W. Rogers in the Bronx, New
His father was a teacher, choral singer, his mother a zoologist, an
ethnic music collector and teacher and his uncle was a composer, bandleader
and pianist. His son, Chris, is
a trumpeter, composer and arranger.
As a teenager he began to take special interest in
Afro-Cuban music and from the 1950s amassed a huge record collection of the
genre. He also had an interest
in cars from the time he was thirteen, which led to a loss of interest in
school and transferring to the Bronx
He started playing the trombone when he was in his
mid-teens and performed in a Latin combo made up of his co-students. He soon became acquainted with
several musicians that worked in the Latin music scene and was performing
with various ensemble at many local venues in the Bronx
He also began taking an interest in jazz music and often went to jam
sessions that went on in clubs.
In 1956 he became a member of Hugo Dicken’s
band, often performing solos, and his time with them honed his ability to
interpret tunes based around African music. He went from there to perform with
several other local bands and caught the attention of the bandleader Eddie Palmieri.
This resulted in him beginning a long association with Eddie and
performing in concert and in the studio with his band La Perfecta. In 1957 he appeared at the Amsterdam
Concertgebuow with J.J. Johnson as a member of
Jimmy Wormworth’s American Jazz Quintet.
Described as being “one of the first to play the
trombone in the manner” of “any Afro-Cuban trumpet
player”, he produced unique interpretations and had an innate
understanding of no matter what genre of music he was playing. So much was his recognition in the
field of trombone player that he was invited to be a guest lecturer at Yale
University in 1968. That same year he left Eddie Palmieri and La Perfecta, to return periodically for
various performances and recordings, and went to work at Lloyd
Price’s Turntable as a member of the house band. Later on he took studies with the
saxophonist Carmine Caruso.
During the 1970s he left the life of being a full-time
Latin musician behind him and went to work predominantly as an extremely
sought after studio musician in many genres of music including jazz and
R&B. He also worked fairly
extensively in the production of some albums. In 1970 he joined up with Michael Brecker in the band Birdsong and was a co-founder, with
Michael, of Dreams and often did their
arrangements. 1974 he was back
working in collaboration with Eddie Palmieri and
a few years later in 1979 he was back studying. This time his tutor was the
trumpeter Vince Penzarella who had worked with
several acclaimed East Coast orchestras. He carried on his busy performing
and production schedule throughout the 1980s.
One night in April 1991 he went to bed at his home and
died in his sleep at the young age of 55. He has left behind a legacy of being
a Grammy winner and one of the most influential trombonist soloists in the
Latin American genre.
During the course of Barry’s career he performed
with an extensive list of artists that include Aerosmith,
Celi Bee, George Benson, David Byrne, Willie
Colon, Hank Crawford, Celia Cruz, Manu Dibango, Dr.
John, The Fabulous Rhinestones, Jon Faddis, Fania All Stars, Fanny, Aretha Franklin, Gloria Gaynor, Rupert Holmes, Instant Funk, Bob James, Chaka
Khan, Ralph MacDonald, Herbie Mann, Jimmy McGriff, Bette Midler, Idris Muhammed, Parliament, Esther Phillips, Jimmy Ponder, Lalo Schifrin, David Spinozzi,
Richard Tee, Joe Thomas, John Tropea, Stanley Turrentine, Bobby Valentin
and Grover Washington Jr..
As you can imagine the amount of album recordings he
made as a musician and/or producer are countless, but a few of them include
Night in the Ruts by Aerosmith, Air
by Air, Benny & Us by The
Average White Band, The George Benson
Collection by George Benson, Don’t
Stop the Music by The Brecker Brothers, C’Est Chic
by Chic, Imagine My Surprise by
Dreams, Blue Moves by Elton John,
Perfecta by La Perfecta, Cha Cha Cha at the Coral Reef by La Playa Sextet, Pasaport by Orquesta
Broadway, Echendo Pa’Lante,
Mozambique and Sun of Latin Music by Eddie Palmieri, Pepper
by Pepper, Something/Anything by
Todd Rundgren, Hot Cakes by Carly Simon, We Are Family by Sister Sledge, Catching the Sun by Spyro Gyra, Chance by Candi
Man Dog by James Taylor, Love
Explosion by Tina Turner, Feels
So Good by Grover Washington Jr. and the
soundtracks of Fame and Shag.