Chris Maddock: The Hunt

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


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.

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