It was trombonist Trummy Young who inspired drummer Danny Barcelona to say aloha to his home in Hawaii and embark on a career as an international jazz artist. The two met during a period in the mid-'40s when trombonist, singer, and bandleader Young was hanging out in the land of macadamia nuts. It was the middle of Barcelona's final year of high school when he took off to join Young's orchestra, an era when "Salt Peanuts" was becoming the new musical snack. In the early '50s, Barcelona launched his own sextet called the Hawaiian Dixieland All-Stars and toured the Far East, where some listeners thought the band was just plain nuts. There were plenty of fans, however, and the drummer was invited back a few years later as part of an international music revue. Even with all this traveling, Barcelona kept up a Hawaiian base and did plenty of club and party engagements in Waikiki when he wasn't on the road. Finally, in the fall of 1957, he relocated to New York City, where Young once again proved to be a valuable connection. At this point the good-natured trombonist was a member of Louis Armstrong's combo, one of the most steadily employed groups in jazz during that period. Barrett Deems was the drummer on the way out, and Barcelona would remain with the group known as Louis Armstrong's All-Stars until 1971, when the beloved leader put the pet project down due to his own ailing health. Highlights of the years with Satchmo included an African tour in the '60s, in which Barcelona's performance wowed Rhodesian drum masters. There was plenty of recording as well, some 130 different sessions in all, one of which produced the hit single of "Hello Dolly" in 1968, offering listeners a trip to Barcelona every time they turned the radio on. Horror film fans had the same opportunity in 2001, when the hit Jeeper's Creepers utilized the Armstrong recording of the same name on its soundtrack. The majestic solidity of Barcelona's beat is akin to architectural landmarks in the Spanish city that naturally comes to mind whenever this drummer's name is brought up.
- by Eugene Chadbourne
All Music Group