I’ve just obtained a CD reissue of an LP by one of the finest “mainstream” jazz groups from the 1970’s: the Ruby Braff – George Barnes Quartet (on “Jazz Lips” JL 765). The interplay between Braff’s cornet and Barnes’ guitar is so close and sympathetic that the listener assumes that these two musicians must have been very, very close both musically and personally.
The truth is that, despite the self-evident musical empathy, they hated each other.
The bassist Bill Crow recounts how he once depped with the group, which was a tightly-organised little outfit and Bill had listened closely to their records in order to familiarise himself with their routines. On the night, he was pleased with his own performance and disappointed that neither Braff nor Barnes said anything to him. He mentioned this to the band’s rhythm guitarist Wayne Wright, who replied: “don’t worry: they’re too busy hating each other.”
There used to be some film of the Braff / Barnes group on Youtube, but for some reason it’s disappeard. Here’s a very similar group, with Howard Alden in place of George Barnes, and a drummer (the tasty Oliver Jackson) added: