Alex Hitchcock/Tom Barford Quartet
The Verdict, Brighton
Friday 2nd February, 2018
The chordless two tenor quartet of Alex Hitchcock and Tom Barford are a relatively new group but one with an impressive and original sound. Their opening number showed their ability to perform tight unison passages and harmonies, the result of many hours of rehearsal and careful study.
Whilst the band performed mostly original material, there was one jazz standard in each set, with Jimmy Heath’s classic CTA ending the first set with a brisk slice of bebop.
They began the second set with a piece entitled You Like That which featured, like a lot of the tunes, everyone in the band. Drummer James Maddren stood out with his propulsive energy and ability to interweave rhythmic responses to each soloist.
The second set’s jazz standard, the Hank Mobley hard bop classic This I Dig of You, featured some storming solos from both saxophonists which displayed their fluency and virtuosity, followed by them both trading some impressive eight-bar phrases with James Maddren.
Tom Barford’s compositional abilities are remarkably mature for his age, as his original The Highly-Strung Trapeze Artist proved. Opening with a repeated bass line from Ferg Ireland, the juxtaposing lines from both saxophones built up the intensity to create a memorable and atmospheric piece.
The winner of last year’s Kenny Wheeler Prize at the Royal Academy of Music, Tom Barford has recently recorded an album for Edition to be released in August. He’s certainly one to watch.
Alex Hitchcock, tenor saxophone; Tom Barford, tenor and soprano saxophone; Fergus Ireland, double bass; James Maddren, drums.
[Photo of Hitchcock/Barford Quartet by Lisa Wormsley]