Bobby Barnes hails from Detroit, the “Motor City,” and the music city of “Motown”. As a young man growing up, Detroit was a haven for some of the worlds most outstanding Jazz musicians, affording Bobby the opportunity and good fortune to play with, and learn from the very the best.
Bobby began his illustrious music career in 1946 playing the Clarinet in school, which eventually lead him to master many of the woodwind instruments, such as the soprano, alto and tenor saxophone, in addition to the flute and piccolo. In 1952 Bobby was drafted into the United States Army. After basic training, he auditioned and was accepted to play in the US Army Band. Being stationed in Berlin, Germany, Bobby was able to further his musical training with what was considered by some to be the best musicians in the world, members of the German Symphony Orchestra.
Bobby eventually formed his own band, whose original members now reads like a “who’s who” in Jazz. As luck would have it, Bobby was a neighbor with piano virtuoso, Sir Roland Hanna, who would sneak in Bobby’s window to play the piano, and later went on to play with Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, and Thad Jones & Mel Lewis.
Bobby happens to be a schoolmate of Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Donald Byrd, who was also a member of his band. If those two Jazz greats alone wasn’t enough, the band also included, Gene Taylor, former bassist with Horace Silver, alto saxophonist, Sonny Red, who became a featured player with Donald Byrd, Kenny Dorham, Barry Harris, and Yusef Lateef, trombonist, Claude Black, along with two well known local musicians, Charles King and Gene Brown on drums.
Understanding that music was all about playing your instrument and training, Bobby went on to train and perform with some of the best that Jazz had to offer. Bobby studied with two of the most acclaimed Jazz musicians in the business, Yusef Lateef, who later played with Charles Mingus, Donald Byrd and Cannonball Adderley, and Joe Henderson, who played with Jack McDuff, Kenny Dorham, Horace Silver, and Herbie Hancock.
Bobby has also graced the stage with the likes of, trombonist, Curtis Fuller, (Dizzy Gillespie, Cannonball Adderley, Benny Golson, Art Farmer, Art Blakey), guitarist,Kenny Burrell, (Stan Getz, Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Quincy Jones), bassist, Paul Chambers, (Miles Davis, John Coltrane, J.J. Johnson-Kai Winding, Bud Powell, Freddie Hubbard, bassist, Doug Watkins, (James Moody, Lee Morgan, Horace Silver, Jackie McLean, Charles Mingus), and pianist, Barry Harris, (Dexter Gordon, Illinois Jacquet, Yusef Lateef, Hank Mobley, Coleman Hawkins) to name a few.