Barry Sutton – Founder

Barry Sutton – Drums/Percussion/Vocals

Barry was born and raised in Queensland, growing up in Southport and then Emu Park and Rockhampton, with many opportunities coming his way as a young drummer, playing in the dance bands in the early 50’s – deciding to move to Brisbane became one of his first musical experiences becoming a member of the Northern Command Band based in Enoggera, Brisbane.

in the Northern Command Band

The band travelled to Sydney, up to Cairns and Townsville and to the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. During his time in Brisbane,  Barry (Baz) and his friend Colin Ennis (Buzz) were often to be found playing at Brisbane’s first Coffee Lounge and Jazz venue, the Primitif Café in the Piccadilly Arcade. Run by fabulous Brisbane entrepreneur, Peta Hackworth – and frequented by other well-known Brisbane Musicians, amongst them Ricky Farbach and Chet Clark.

Endorsing Drouyn Drums

From this point Barry started to live and work on the Gold Coast, from 1957 to 1960 – some would say the golden era of the Coast, working at Danceland with the Billo Smith Band, the Johnny Goldner Trio at the Palm Lounge in Coolangatta and travelling up to Brisbane ( no mean feat in those days) at the ABC Radio Studios in Mt Cootha for “Music in the Goldner manner” a 30 minute Radio Show. Working with the “Rick Farbach Quartet” at Natureland, with Paula Langlands on vocals was a highlight, and then at the Chevron Hotel in Surfer’s Paradise with Marco and Maria Klassman, two fine classical and continental musicians from Europe who came to Australia to avoid conflicts in Romania – they were a big influence on Barry and his playing during the 6 months residency.

At the Swiss Inn – Katoomba

Barry made the move to Sydney in 1960 – finding his feet as a player amid the talent that was around the Eastern Suburbs in particular with Italian, Greek & Jewish musicians. Close by at “King’s Cross” Barry worked with Lionel Huntington, Billy Kefalis, and George Saunders (“Sazs”) – frequenting venues like the “Fox-hole”, the “Alouette “French Restaurant with entertainer, Victor Debono. This is where the first love of Latin percussion came into existence.

Lionel Huntington (piano and vibes) Ron Roman (bass) Barry Sutton (drums)

In the 60s Barry took a residency with his band in the Snowy Mountains Hotel in Cooma when the Snowy Hydro Scheme was in full swing. It was a fun band made up of musicians from all over the world and this is where he met and worked with friend, Bob Horsley – Adelaide pianist, German Bass Player – Freddy Lenfer and Aboriginal guitarist, Bobby Broome, who sang Nat King Cole style. One of the vocalists who sat in frequently with the band was Egyptian, George Yatris. So this was one of the first multi-cultural groups – ahead of their time. But then, that’s how Sydney was in those days.

In 1970, he joined the house band at “Chequers Nightclub” led by Tony Gaha – and performed on Latin percussion for Shirley Bassey, Trini Lopez, Lou Rawles, Billy Preston, and Sammy Davis Jr.


The Milestones

Working at the “Goulburn Club” in the city, Barry met a band called “The Gringos” with Anna Rys as vocalist…this leads us to the next part of Barry’s journey. Miguel Salerno, the leader had just received a contract to work in London, so the band moved there in 1971 to work in the West End. During his time in London, Barry enjoyed session work as a percussionist at Studio 1 in Water Street, “dropping in” percussion licks on many renowned albums of the time..sometimes without ever seeing a fellow musician on the recording!

With Anna Rys

The next adventure then takes the form of Cruise Work all over the world.  The first ship took Barry to the Caribbean, “The Song of Norway” and around this time Barry met Hugh Slavin, who ran the entertainment for P & O – offering more work in the Med on the “Oriana” – travelling with a trio including Anna Rys on vocals and the great English Hammond Organ Player, Russell Dee. A highlight in Barry’s cruising life was performing on the “Canberra” in the 1975 Season.

With the Ambassadors of Paraguay

In 1976, he returned to Australia to head the pilot touring program for Musica Viva Schools Touring in Sydney and regional NSW. 1977 took Barry to South America on a Government Grant to study the rhythms and music of the country – highlights were in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uraguay. Returning with a wealth of knowledge, Barry’s show was highly sought after in the industry and was based  on the history & movement of Rhythm –  from Africa, to South America, and the Caribbean. Baz also performed on Percussion with the “Ambassadors of Paraguay” on their Australian Tour.

With Geza in the Mr Polo Duo

A highlight in this time in Sydney – 1980 was working with the talent that is Bette Midler, in her show at the State Theatre. The next move was buying an apartment on the Spanish Island of Mallorca – right on the Mediterranean at Palma Nova – and enjoying musical life in this region, working with the Big Band at the Casino led by Tito Caplanget, a well-known Mallorcan Pianist.

Back to London and more P & O cruise work, spending 5 years at sea on the “Canberra” teaming up in a duo with hungarian, Geza Polonyi as the Mr Polo Duo. Back to Australia in 1986 to again work the schools touring show for Musica Viva – with Bill Saragi, Ray Forster, and Ken Sparkes.

with Kathy in Latin Duo Mode

In 1988, Barry moved to Queensland where he performed at Expo 88 with Dimitri Prineas’s “Havana Party Band” and then for five years with the Queensland Arts Councils’ Schools Touring Program, taking him and his wife, Kathy Sander, to many regional parts of Queensland.

Coming home meant Barry could work with fabulous friends’ bands like the original “View from Madeleine’s Couch” with Anje West and Kym Ambrose. Also, Sharny Russell’s “Latin Mischief” – with Sharny, her sister and Bassist, Helen Russell, and drummer, Ken Eadie.

Sharny Russell’s Latin Mischief

This time also saw the beginning of Mood Music – Barry and Kathy started working at events and functions with an eclectic group called “Barocka” – effervescent music with a mix of Baroque and Rock!  They decided to form a Latin Band “Sabrosa” with two Colombians, Javier and Fabio plus John Zappia on Sax and a  band called the “Bazkatz” which went through various changes over the years to include people like pianist Sammy Pace, guitarists Phil Wright and Ian McWilliam, sax/clarinetists Mark Pradella, Gabriel Vatavu and Tony Ashby, Wayne Moore on Trombone, Joe Howman on Trumpet, Bassists Greg Stewart and Bryan Pearson, and Vocalists Kerry Patterson and Clancy Cullen.

Barry also worked with Bob Ware on Sax/Flute in “Flute Safari” and enjoyed working on events with Rhonda Davidson-Irwin’s “Viva La Musica”.

During the later part of Barry’s career, he played at the Manly Jazz Festival, Thredbo Jazz Festival, Noosa Jazz Festival, and the Sydney Festival. During the 1990’s Barry worked with Anita Thomas and John Morrison, Johnny Nicol, Don Burrows, Janet Seidel, Don Raider, Bruce Poulson, Ed Gaston, Gary Lee, and Cory Sea plus more. At the 2003 Manly Jazz Festival and the Australian Jazz Festival in Canberra, he performed with Cicilia Kemezys and Steven Scott in their Brazilian/Cuban group.

The Bazkatz with Barry, Anna, Bryan, Kathy and Phil

Barry Sutton is a true musician who has enjoyed a sterling career in some wonderful locations around the world. Notable projects in the 2000s have included the Empire Salon and Dance Orchestra, and the Barry Sutton Trio featuring pianist Kathy Sander and bassist Bryan Pearson. The drum kit, and Latin percussion, have been his staples but another pursuit has always been singing from the drums.

This then led to a strong interest in the music of Cuba, Chile, and Brazil, as well as a deep desire to perform jazz in many of its’ forms. Having said this, there have been changes of style throughout – one notable departure was joining the band “Nev Nichols and the Country Playboys” – good friend and fellow musician, Don North was busy with Reg Lindsay’s band and handed the drum chair to Barry. Another backing up the “Inkspots” on their Australian Tour…and Barry once acted as compere and Conga player for singer, Ricky May at the Coogee Bay Hotel.

Sammy Pace and Barry on the Kookaburra Queen Riverboats Season 2018

Despite being confined to a wheelchair these days, Barry’s love for music has never faded away. He still enjoys playing with his friends and practices/plays for his own enjoyment most days when he gets the chance.