Bootsie Barnes

Bootsie Barnes

Robert "Bootsie" Barnes is an American tenor saxophonist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Early Years

Barnes began his musical career on piano at age six, switching to drums at 10. His grandmother gave him a saxophone at the age of nineteen, and he knew he had found his niche. In school, classmates included drummers Lex Humphries, Bill Cosby, and Al "Tootie" Heath; bassist Spanky DeBrest, trumpeter Lee Morgan, and a host of Philadelphia giants who went on to help shape the maturing sound of jazz music. Those who had the biggest influence on him were his father, who played trumpet with Bill Doggett’s sixteen-piece big band, and his cousin Jimmy Hamilton, saxophonist and star clarinetist of Duke Ellington’s band for twenty-six years.

Early career

In the 1960s and early 1970s Barnes played the renowned chitlin circuit which included clubs such as South Jersey's Dreamland, Cotton Club, Lauretta's Hi Hat, Pearl's Celebrity Room and Over the Top. His highly articulated tenor style also graced Atlantic City’s Club Harlem and The Wonder Garden. A few of the legendary Philly clubs at which he performed include The Aqua Lounge, Just Jazz, The Blue Note, Nite Cap, The Showboat and Pep’s. Worked with Big Bands of Sam Reed, Johnny Lynch's Club Harlem Band, Bennie Lions, Lloyd Price's Big Band (under the direction of the great Kenny Dorham) and the Al Grey Little Big Band.

Other Accomplishments

A significant accomplishment for Bootsie was being elected the youngest ever assistant secretary of Philadelphia’s only Black Local #274 American Federation of Musicians where he served from 1971-1974. This organization was a forerunner of today's Clef Club of the Performing Arts which was founded by the late former President of Local #274, Jimmy Adams.

Barnes toured, performed and recorded with literally all the great organists including Shirley Scott, Jimmy Smith, Don Patterson, Jimmy McGriff, Jack McDuff, Charles Earland, Trudy Pitts, Poppa John and Joey DeFrancesco. In the late 1980s, Bootsie toured with his childhood friend and classmate Bill Cosby, and made guest appearances on "The Bill Cosby Show" (playing himself) as well as many other television appearances. As recently as 2001 he toured with Cosby, playing the Playboy Jazz Festival and the Newport Jazz Festival.

Bootsie has toured Europe as well as the United States and Canada. He has headlined venues from New York’s famed Birdland to the very prestigious Le Grand Hotel in Paris. He has won numerous Jazz awards, such as the Marjorie Dockery Volunteer Award from the Urban League Guild of Philadelphia and New York’s Greater Jamaica Development Corporation Award, and is often listed within the Top Ten Jazz Picks.

His hard-edged, highly articulated sound is easily recognizable whether softly caressing a ballad, or swinging hard, during live performances or on CD. "JazzTimes" magazine described his solos like this "…plays tenor saxophone with self-assured flair and gorgeous depth…" and "…plays in a classic style reminiscent of Gene Ammons and Hank Mobley…". He has played a sideman on many recordings and he has released one vinyl album and three CDs as a leader: "Been Here All Along", "You Leave Me Breathless", "Hello", and "Boppin' Round the Center".


As a leader

*"Been Here All Along" – Bootsie Barnes Quartet – Way After Midnight Records
*"Hello" - Bootsie Barnes Quartet – French Riviera Records
*"You Leave Me Breathless" – Bootsie Barnes Quartet – French Riviera Records
*"Boppin' Round the Center" – Bootsie Barnes Quintet – Harvest Records

As a sideman

*"Looking Up" – Cullen Knight – Reflection Records
*"Here to Create Music" – Gamble/Huff – Philadelphia International
*"Why Not" – Don Patterson – Muse Records
*"The Saxophone Shop" – Odean Pope Saxophone Choir – Soul Note Records
*"Epitome" - Odean Pope Saxophone Choir – Soul Note Records
*"Comin’ Home" – Poppa John DeFrancesco – Muse Records
*"All in the Family" - Poppa John & Joey DeFrancesco – Muse Records
*"Hip Cake Walk" - Poppa John & Joey DeFrancesco – High Note
*"John Swana Quintet" – Criss Cross Records
*"Philly Gumbo"- Johns Swana - Criss Cross
*"Live at Ortlieb's"- Various Artists - Encounter
*"Open the Gates"- Kenny Gates
*"To Joe With Love"- Juanita Holliday

External links

* [ Robert "Bootsie" Barnes at]
* - Bootsie Barnes website

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