Chris Maddock: The Hunt

On his bluesy record debut the Birmingham Conservatoire sax grad shows the influence of Jimmy Smith and Michael Brecker

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This EP is the debut recording by saxophonist Chris Maddock, and serves as a useful introduction to his music. A graduate of the Birmingham Conservatoire, he first attracted attention with Clark Tracey’s band, the drummer being a tutor at the college.

Of the four tracks, three are compositions by Maddock and one, Emily, is by Johnny Mandel & Johnny Mercer. The instrumental format is the same as two albums that apparently influenced him as a youngster: Jimmy Smith’s Back At The Chicken Shack and Michael Brecker’s Time Is Of The Essence, with organist Larry Goldings, and the approach is similar – a combination of a laid back, blues-orientated style with a more modern perspective.

The title track, The Hunt, is a good example, with driving drums from Edward Richardson and a punchy lead from Maddock. Guitarist Tobie Carpenter is given extended solos on this and on Song Of Myself, which starts as something of a relatively low-key affair on an undercurrent of jangly guitar and soft brushwork, before  blues-tinged guitar and saxophone step proceedings up a notch or two.

Similarly, Emily starts suitably gently, reliably keeping to the melody; then Maddock’s solo interestingly takes it away, cutting loose and exploring, a contrast with Liam Dunachie’s subdued organ in its assertiveness, but bringing things back for a strong conclusion.

The addition of bassist Daniel Casimir gives greater width of sound on the down-home At Least He Never Walked, his contributions in both solo and supplementary lines a thoughtful choice. As his presence largely negates the need for the organ’s bass notes, I’d be interested to hear piano on this number instead of organ.

Discography
Emily; The Hunt; Song Of Myself; At Least He Never Walked (23.09)
Maddock (as, ts); Liam Dunachie (Hammond org); Tobie Carpenter (g); Edward Richardson (d); Daniel Casimir (b) on T4 only. The Bunker, London, March 2020.
Ubuntu Music