Joel Barford is a 24 year old freelance drummer based in London. Joel is a freelance professional drummer that has played for/with a variety of people such as the Nigel Price Organ Trio, Ross Stanley, Chris Montague, Alex Garnett, Ant Law, Sam Leak, Alex Hitchcock, Tom Seals, National Youth Jazz Orchestra, CC Smugglers, Greg Coulson, Dave Swift, Derek Nash, Dave O'Higgins, John Etheridge, Lucy Merrilyn, Alex Ridout, Pete Long, Liane Carroll and many more. Joel has played established venues and festivals such as Ronnie Scott's, Pizza Express Jazz Club, Vortex Jazz Club, 606 Jazz Club, North Sea Jazz Festival, London Jazz Festival, Cambridge Jazz Festival and more across UK and Europe.
At the age of 7 Joel started drum lessons with the great Terry Mitchell. Terry taught him a range of techniques from a young age such as how to read music, technique, how to play a wide variety of genres to a professional standard and lots more. He did all grades with Terry, starting from debut grade all the way to passing my grade 8 at the age of 13. After this Joel moved on to having lessons with various drummers in London.
Joel started has been playing a variety of big band gigs since the age of 10. He was a member of Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust for 6 years between the ages of 10-16. Throughout his time at NMPAT he played for all 3 of their big bands: Jazz 3, Jazz 2, and the Northamptonshire County Youth Big Band (CYBigB). He rehearsed with them once a week along with regular gigs at theatres all over Northamptonshire.
"Is it reasonable to say that Elvin Jones can be heard in the playing of a British 20-year-old? Yes." -
London Jazz News 2018
"Back in 2015 I joined an already well established band CC SMUGGLERS. I was invited to go to audition and out of the large number of applicants I was lucky enough to get the gig. In summer 2016, I embarked upon my first European tour playing some of Europe's iconic venues and biggest festivals. Including North Sea Jazz Festival (Netherlands), Colours of Ostrava (Czech Republic), Bospop Weert (Netherlands) Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival (UK),INDIEPENDENCE Music & Arts Festival (Cork, Ireland) Latitude Festival(UK), Ladná Čeladná 2016 (Czech Republic) and TW Classic in Belgium where we opened for Bruce Springsteen. TW Classic was a big step up in my career as we opened for some of the worlds biggest artists like Simply Red, Lionel Richie, Lana Del Rey and the headliner Bruce Springsteen. If that wasn't enough, this whole show was to 65,000 people! The single 'RHYTHM' got play-listed on BBC Radio 2. I came to a decision to leave CC Smugglers in September 2016 as I felt it was time to peruse my freelance career."
"Joel is a rare type of musician. There are people that are gifted, that are lucky enough to discover it early in life and then way less who apply the degree of passion, dedication and work ethic to it as Joel does. That's still not why I love his playing. I get fascinated by his way of making tradition sound fresh, his way of making impossible things seem easy, the way he expresses himself on his instrument. You will definitely hear a lot of this young man in the future. And I can't wait myself."
After leaving NMPAT at the age of 16, Joel decided to get more experience in big band drumming so he took it upon himself to join the National Youth Jazz Orchestra Academy Big Band, otherwise known as 'NYJO 2'. He travelled to London every Saturday to rehearse. NYJO are known for their challenging charts and their top-notch performances. Joel was a member of this band for just over a year but had to stop going due to other music related commitments but often gets called to dep for the main NYJO Orchestra and to teach as an ambassador.
Joel has played for a number of solo artists as a session drummer for live shows, tours and studio recording sessions. He spends a lot of time drumming for 2 rhythm and blues artists: Greg Coulson a pop/blues multi-instrumentalist and Tom Seals pianist/singer songwriter. He has done a lot of work with Greg and Tom up and down the country and further abroad.
"It was 2017 where I had the pleasure of accepting the gig playing for piano player/vocalist Tom Seals. I now play regularly across the country and various parts of Europe touring with Tom with a great band. I played on his latest release of his new EP 'Where I'm At (Live)'. To see when I'm next playing with Tom check out my Dates page!"
"Joel Barford. He’s an amazing young drummer who you probably already know about. He has an amazing sense of swing and instinct for bebop. I reckon he will definitely be someone we all know about soon."
"Joel is not only a great player, but one of the most versatile drummers I've worked with. He's a real professional and always a pleasure to work with." Beau Holland
Over the years I have been lucky enough to have my own late shows at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London in co-operatrion with the great Alex Garnett. I would bring a band of my choosing and the night would be under my name. In the past I have bought quintets and quartets of my choosing. The latest line up was Ross Stanley on hammond organ, Nick Costley-White on guitar and my brother Tom Barford on tenor sax in February 2020.
"In March 2017, I had the privilege of joining the CANOPUS DRUIMS family as an Artist Endorser. It is was an honour to be approached and asked to be on such a great artist roster along side many of my influences: Brian Blade, Kenny Washington, Clarence Penn and many more. Thanks to Rubix group for sorting this!"
I have been lucky to study with great teachers in the past. These include Nate Smith, John Riley, James Maddren, Kendrick Scott, Adam Arruda, Ralph Salmins, Martin Hearn, Alan Savage & Terry Mitchell
"Joel is one of the best drummers I've had the pleasure of playing with. He plays like a pro with 40+ years of experience...definitely one to watch out for!" Greg Coulson