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Barbara Lashley, A Love Affair with Song

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Bob Neighbor’s Jazz Band at Earthquake McGoon’s with similar personnel to below, sans Lashley or drums. L to R: Bob Helm, John Gill, Dick Oxtot, Bob Neighbor, Bob Mielke and Ray Skjelbred, January 1983. Mielke collection.

Bob Neighbor’s Jazz Band

Earthquake McGoons Club, San Francisco CA, July 1982

This session is notable for Bob Helm on bass clarinet accompanying Barbara, a rare treat.  No mere novelty, he crafted a delicate, sensitive counterpoint leveraging the instrument’s velvet-throated basso.  Helm was a force majeur of Frisco Traditional Jazz, vital to Lu Watters Yerba Buena Jazz Band and a mainstay of Turk Murphy’s Jazz Band.

The musical intelligence of Lashely, Helm and Skjelbred brought renewed charm to songs that might have slipped into hackneyed banality.  This excellent recording was probably made by local jazz broadcaster Jim Watt, though the performance is a little disorganized in spots.

Bob Neighbor (trumpet, vocals), Bob Helm (clarinet, bass clarinet, alto sax), Bob Mielke (trombone), Ray Skjelbred (piano), Dick Oxtot (tuba), Bob Ulsh (drums) and Barbara Lashley (vocals).


After You’ve Gone (Helm, clarinet bass clarinet)


Baby Won’t You Please Come Home (Helm, clarinet, bass clarinet)


Four or Five Times (Helm, alto, clarinet)


Them There Eyes (Helm, alto)


Memoires of You (Helm, bass clarinet)


I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter (Helm, alto)


Barbara Lashely with Bob Neighbor Band  McGoons 7.26.82 complete.mp3


Reveling in her natural element Barbara rarely sounded happier than when she was MC at the Necklace of Lights celebration. Mielke collection.

Bob Mielke’s Necklace of Lights All Star Jazz Band

Lake Merritt Lighting Celebration, Oakland CA, July 1987

There was just ONE performance by the swinging Necklace of Lights All Star Jazz Band.  This stellar 10-piece orchestra was assembled for an event re-commissioning the string of lights surrounding Lake Merritt, Oakland’s central civic attraction.  The band romped through charts by music director Bob Mielke as fireworks celebrated the rekindling of Oakland’s bejeweled nighttime garland.

The Necklace. Fireworks 1936 (Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room).

In addition to singing, Lashley acted as master of ceremonies.  I suspect her noted organizing skills might have been requested, volunteered or hired for the event.  Clearly, these barely salvageable audio clips transmit only an echo of that rollicking evening beside the lake.


All Stars: Helm, Howe, Lashley, Fleming, Oxtot, Oakley, Allen, Mielke, Hamilton and Bardin, July 1987. Mielke collection.

Leon Oakley and George Fleming (horns), Bob Helm and Phil Howe (reeds), Bob Mielke (trombone, music director), Bill Bardin (trombone), Jeff Hamilton (piano), Dick Oxtot (banjo), Pete Allen (string bass), Jack Mangan (drums), Barbara Lashley (vocals).


Someday Sweetheart – Lashley


I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love with Me – Lashley


Mobile – Lashley


Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight  – band only


Crazy Rhythm – band only and fireworks


Personnel announced by Barbara


Them There Eyes – Lashley and band


Necklace of Lights All Star Jazz Band – Lashley set complete.mp3

2 Responses to Barbara Lashley, A Love Affair with Song

  1. Dick Karner says:

    Very enjoyable! Thanks, Dave.

  2. Marie Gomariz says:

    Thanks for this tribute to Barbara Lashley. Indeed, she was a lovely lady. Back in the early 1980s, when I was in high school, I remember going to her country place (Napa? Sonoma?) where she hosted weekend jam sessions. Fun times and great music.

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