Named Modern Drummer’s “#1 Up-and-Coming Drummer of 2018,” the powerhouse, Hartford-born drummer initially fell in love with the instrument by watching his father perform in the family church. His upbringing in the church instilled in him a passion for gospel music and he later became attracted to jazz through the music of John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk, drummers Tony Williams, Max Roach, Roy Haynes and Art Blakey and the Hartford-based alto sax great Jackie McLean, who headed the jazz department of the Hartt School of Music where Barber studied. Since relocating to New York City, he’s worked with the likes of pianists Kenny Barron and Harold Mabern, bassist Buster Williams, trumpeters Jeremy Pelt, Nicholas Payton and Wallace Roney, saxophonist J.D. Allen, Marcus Strickland and Abraham Burton. Barber’s debut as a leader, 2018’s Vision Ahead, firmly established the 28-year-old drummer as a leader and composer in his own right as well as a highly respected player. Offering a fresh blend of classic jazz with elements of gospel, rock, soul and fusion, Vision Ahead is the first step in what promises to be a stellar career. “I recognize my God given gift,” says Barber. “Maximizing this gift to its full potential is the best thing you can do for yourself. Operating in this gift is how you give back to the world.” Barber’s Vision Ahead band will be featured as part of the upcoming “Next Faces of Jazz” program on March 2 at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in Lower Manhattan.
– Bill Milkowski