CD reviews

CD REVIEW: Tom Barford – Bloomer

Tom Barford – Bloomer
(Edition Records EDN 1117. CD review by Frank Griffith)

Tenor saxophonist Tom Barford‘s debut CD, Bloomer, on Edition Records, has been described by Evan Parker as “wonderfully intricate and demanding and yet… exuberantly listenable”. Evan has also commented: “we are welcoming the birth of a new star in the jazz firmament”. With this I firmly concur – Bloomer is clear evidence of an outstanding example of Barford’s talent and promise as a composer and player.

Barford’s command of the saxophone is displayed effortlessly with his clear and even tonal quality throughout a host of registers. This is enhanced with a modern melodic vocabulary imbued with a consistent vibrancy leaving the listener fully satisfied with every aspect of his delivery. Bloomer consists of nine originals with a healthy mix of tempi, grooves and motifs, all equally executed by his fine group. The guitar of Billy Marrows serves a “hot on the heels” counterfoil to the leader as does Rupert Cox‘s piano. The sturdy support and melodicism of bassist, Flo Moore, does not go unnoticed along with Dave Storey‘s pulsating yet solidly hand-on-the-till drumistry.

Barford’s impressive CV includes appearances with the Billy Cobham/Guy Barker Big Band (see my review in June 2018), the London Supersax Project and NYJO. Not too shabby for a lad having just graduated from the esteemed Royal Academy of Music jazz programme. Tom was also the winner of the 2017 Kenny Wheeler Prize of Jazz Composition.

Bloomer was produced by acclaimed saxophonist and bandleader, Iain Ballamy, who appears to be  a mentor of sorts to Barford. This, and Dave Stapleton’s exemplary Edition label have played a large role in this top class recording. All boding extremely well for the future of jazz in the UK.

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