Skip to content

Oneliness - The Life and Music of Brian Barley


The legendary figures in jazz are too often also the most tragic. So it is with the Canadian tenor saxophonist Brian Barley, who died in 1971 at the age of 28.

At first he pursued a promising future as a clarinetist in classical music, all the while harbouring an abiding love for jazz. A twist of fate changed the course of what proved to be the briefest of careers, one that took him in just four years from freelance assignments with the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell and a position with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra under Meredith Davies to recordings in Montreal with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson and a fleeting appearance at Slugs’ in New York with drummer Charles Moffett.

His transition to jazz complete, Barley went further and spent his few remaining years challenging the inherent conservatism of the Canadian scene. Oneliness: The Life and Music of Brian Barley follows the unique arc of his short life to the mischance of his early death.