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Barber, Julien

Violist and violinist who was a member of John Lewis’s makeshift Orchestra U.S.A. that released their Debut in 1963 and The Gary McFarland Orchestra that recorded a self-titled album the same year. Ornette Coleman’s Town Hall 1962, featuring Julien on viola, was released in 1965, a year that saw Julien join Stan Getz in recording sessions for the soundtrack of Mickey One. In 1968, he was one of the cogs in Richard Barbary’s Soul Machine, then changed directions on Roland Kirk’s Left and Right. Then he took a Round Trip with Phil Woods and did Something with Tony Bennett.

Things got spacey in the early ‘70s with McCoy Tyner’s Cosmos and Alice Coltrane’s World Galaxy. It was back down to earth with Grant Green in 1971 for The Final Comedown.

Julien’s recording career exploded in 1972: He helped Bobby Hutcherson create Natural Illusions, played viola on Bobby Humphrey’s Dig This and Hubert Laws’ Wild Flower, and added his name to the credits of Marlena Shaw’s Marlena, Hermeto Pascoal’s Hermeto and Bernard “Pretty” Purdie’s Soul is… Pretty Purdie.

Things didn’t slow down in 1973, either: He reunited with Rahsaan Roland Kirk on Prepare Thyself to Deal with a Miracle and Alice Coltrane on Reflection on Creation of Space (A Five Year View), stretched himself on Donny Hathaway’s Extension of a Man, played viola on McCoy Tyner’s Song of the New World and recorded Your Baby is Your Lady with Jackie DeShannon.

He boarded Continental American with Peter Allen in 1974 and helped out Felix Cavaliere on his first self-titled effort. In 1975, he joined Deodato for the Delius-inspired First Cuckoo, formed Circle of Love with Sister Sledge, reflected with Peggy Lee on Mirrors and was part of the string section on Joe Thomas’s Masada. Joe also recruited Julien for his album Feelin’s from Within, released in 1976, a busy bicentennial year for Julien, who helped Jimmy McGriff cook up Red Beans, recorded Living inside Your Love with Earl Klugh, helped crown Esther Phillips Capricorn Princess, demanded Attention! with Louis Armstrong, and offered string support on Jaco Pastorius’s self-titled debut album.

In 1977, he joined The Mysterious Flying Orchestra, the brainchild of Bob Thiele, was part of a string quartet on Nektar’s Magic is a Child, helped Joe Farrell erect La Catedral y el Toro, and covered Jimmy McGriff on Tailgunner. Around this time, the finishing touches were being put on the Ralph MacDonald double album, Sound of a Drum/Counterpoint, which has the curious release date of 1976/1978. This latter year involved a lot more recording projects for Julien, including Carol Douglas’s Come into My Life, Chaka Khan’s self-titled Chaka, Noel Pointer’s Hold On, Phil Upchurch’s eponymous debut, and the soundtrack of The Wiz.

Julien got himself reacquainted with Deodato on 1979’s Knights of Fantasy, went undercover with Carly Simon on Spy, scored a slam dunk with Stuff on Stuff It! and helped make sure that Sweeney Todd was a cut above the rest on Broadway. The following year, he recorded Leyenda de la Hora with McCoy Tyner, then did a 180 in 1982 with Change’s Sharing Your Love and Philip Glass’s Glassworks.

In 1983, he hooked up with George Benson on his In Your Eyes LP and Stevie Nicks on her album, The Wild Heart. Julien was part of the string section on Diane Schuur’s Deedles, released in 1984. He reemerged in 1987 with a pair of stylistically divergent efforts, Joe Jackson’s Will Power and Philip Glass’s DancePieces.

It was back into the movie studio in 1988 for the soundtrack of School Daze. Another soundtrack he appeared on was the 1990 revival of Girl Crazy. On 25th April 1991, he was back in the Broadway pit for The Secret Garden, which enjoyed a generous run through 3rd January 1993. It still afforded him time to continue his studio work: He was billed as part of The Chic Strings on Chic’s 1992 comeback effort, Chic-ism, and helped Sinead O’Connor ask the musical question, Am I Not Your Girl?.

In 1993, he appeared on a pair of vastly different albums, LL Cool J’s 14 Shots to the Dome and Season’s Greetings from Tatsuro Yamashita. Julien had the opportunity to perform and record with a variety of songstresses in 1994, Gloria Estefan on Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Marianne Faithfull on A Secret Life, Nnenna Freelon on Listen, and Barbra Streisand on Barbra: The Concert. For those with short attention spans, Barbra: The Concert Highlights was released the following year.

In 1996, he rejoined Gloria Estefan on Destiny, added his shining virtuosity to Vanessa Williams’ Star Bright, and appeared on the soundtracks of Everyone Says I Love You (on which he is credited as “Julian”) and Get on the Bus. 1997 was an extremely busy year for Julien, with no less eclectic projects: Backstreet Boys’ Backstreet’s Back, Buckshot LeFonque’s Music Evolution, released—no joke—on 1st April, Robin S.’s From Now On (a rare violin credit) Sergio Salvatore’s Point of Presence, and Jon Secada’s economically titled Secada.

In 1998, he touched base with some old friends on Gloria Estefan’s Gloria! and Stevie Nicks’ Enchanted, and accompanied Wynton Marsalis on Standard Time Vol. 5—The Midnight Blues. On 28th March 1999, he appeared in concert with Simavi Uluc at New York City’s Merkin Concert Hall. It was a rare respite from the recording studio, however: In the same year, he returned to the realm of theatre on the soundtrack to the Elton John/Tim Rice musical, Aida, then back to Real Life with Marie Wilson, and appeared on Ricky Martin’s self-titled debut album and Nancy Lamott’s Listen to My Heart.

The turn of the millennium involved a wide variety of ventures: Kathie Lee Gifford’s Born for You, Lenny Kravitz’s Greatest Hits, and Britney Spears’ Oops!… I Did it Again. He even found time to squeeze in another Broadway play, the short-lived The Wild Party, which ran a whopping eight weeks.

In 2001, he appeared on the soundtrack of Baby Boy, Songs I Heard by Harry Connick, Jr., King of the Beat with Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, and the Luther Vandross retrospective, Forever, For Always, For Love. Bernadette Peters Loves Rodgers & Hammerstein. She really does. It was released in 2002. So was Lonnie Liston Smith’s Explorations and the soundtrack of Changing Lanes. Julien changed lanes again in 2003 on The Diary of Alicia Keys, Whitney Houston’s One Wish: The Holiday Album, and Aaron Neville’s Nature Boy: The Standards Album.

Fusion, anyone? How’s this for a combination: Hubert Laws Plays Bach for Barone and Baker, released in 2005. The Great David Ruffin: The Motown Solo Albums, Vol. 2 was released the following year.

Other re-packagings on which Julien appears are The Complete Bill Evans on Verve, The Essential Jaco Pastorius, McCoy Tyner’s Mosaic Select 25, Luther Vandross’s Love, Luther, and Popular Songs: The Best of Wynton Marsalis.

Van McCoy recordings
The Shuffle (Van McCoy)
That’s the Joint (Van McCoy)

Frank Sinatra recordings
That’s What God Looks Like To Me (Stan Irvin/Lan O’Kun)
Reprise RPS 49233 (XNY2101S) (US 45)

Theme from “New York, New York” (Fred Ebb/John Kander)
Reprise RPS49233 (XNY 2103 S) (US 45)

Here he performs on Hubert Laws’ “Pensativa” from the album Wild Flower..

Sources:

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