Chris Barber: The Ballad of the Liver Bird?

Chris Barber: The Ballad of the Liver Bird? April 10, 2015

The “Liver Bird”? Really? What on earth is that?

What it is, is a song from from a 1964 Lionel Bart musical called Maggie May, about a Liverpool streetwalker and her sailor boyfriend. The “Ballad of the Liver Bird” serves as the overture and the finale. I glanced at the song list and didn’t recognize any of the titles except
“Maggie, Maggie May”, which it turns out is not the song of the same name by Rod Stewart, but is rather a folk tune. You might have heard the Beatles sing it as “Dirty Maggie Mae”. Bart is better known for his musical Oliver!, based on Dicken’s Oliver Twist.

But anyway, Chris Barber, a jazz trumpeter from England, gives the Liver Bird a go in a performance that begins like slow, lugubrious Mexican ranchero brass but after a few measures becomes a quite sprightly Dixieland tune. Makes me smile every time.

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