Born in Pasadena, California, and raised in Costa Mesa, Barrett started his jazz career in high school when he formed his first group, the Back Bay Jazz Band, which presented the music of King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and others to Southern California audiences. During this time, Dan played many local jobs with the great New Orleans musicians Ed "Montudie" Garland, Alton Purnell, Mike DeLay, Joe Darensbourg, Nappy Lamare, and Barney Bigard, hearing about the "old days" first-hand.
In 1977, Dan made the first-of many trips to Europe to appear in the Breda International Jazz Festival in Holland. Several passports later, he has become a welcome guest at many jazz festivals abroad, and has formed close friendships with many musicians overseas.
Dan and his wife, Laura, moved to New York City in 1983. He spent a busy year playing with and writing for the Widespread Jazz Orchestra, and was a frequent guest at Eddie Condon's Jazz Club and other Manhattan night-spots.
He has since: played both valve and slide trombones for many motion pictures, including The Cotton Club and Brighton Beach Memoirs, as well as Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite, Everyone Says I Love You, and Bullets Over Broadway. In fact, Barrett made his first on-screen appearance in the latter film, portraying (what else?) a trombonist, circa-1929. He has performed three times at Carnegie Hall: with Woody Herman, Joe Bushkin, and in a tribute to Louis Armstrong, respectively; composed and arranged the theme music for the American Playhouse television production of Rocket to the Moon; and appeared at numerous jazz parties and festivals throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and Japan. Barrett has recorded under his own name (his album for Arbors Records, Jubilesta! was warmly received by critics and listeners alike), and with many respected jazz artists. A partial list would include Doc Cheatham, Scott Hamilton, Bob Haggart, Rosemary Clooney, Joe Bushkin and Benny Goodman. Dan is proud of his association with Mr. Goodman, for whom he played lead trombone and was a featured soloist.
In addition to his free-lance activities, Dan continues to pursue his interest in arranging and orchestration. His writing can be heard on many Arbors Records CDs. I Saw Stars, featuring vocalist Rebecca Kilgore, and Look What I Found, vocalist Daryl Sherman's new release, prominently display Barrett's skills as an arranger. An earlier recording (for another label), arranged by Barrett and featuring the great Bobby Short, garnered a Grammy nomination.
Still another CD occasioned this comment about Barrett's playing from John S. Wilson (The New York Times): "(He) is one of the delights here, a melodist, a colorist who knows how to use a plunger mute with taste and, in total, a player Duke Ellington would have loved."
Dan Barrett is pleased to be featured on Arbors Records, a Florida-based label which is currently recording both new and established traditional and mainstream jazz artists. Dan and his family have recently relocated to Southern California where he continues his busy schedule of recording and performing in festivals and concerts throughout the world.