The latest in the line of Royal Academy of Music graduates to receive the annual Kenny Wheeler Prize, saxophonist-composer Tom Barford is perhaps the most complete package yet. While the debut albums of fresh-faced graduates often appear as inchoate portfolios of loosely related styles, that’s decidedly not the case here.
Barford’s signature style combines shape-shifting forms with measured drama, and his sinewy solos are both direct and melodic. With occasional echoes of contemporary giants Potter and McCaslin, there’s also something quintessentially English about Iain Ballamy’s generous production. Ripe with promise, Bloomer is in every sense a winner.
Barford (ts, ss); Rupert Cox (p, kyb); Billy Marrows (elg); Flo Moore (b, elg); Dave Storey (d). 29-30 January 2018, Real World Studios, Bath.
Edition Records 1117