Joel Barford is a professional drummer based in London. Joel is known for playing with a variety of people such as the Nigel Price Organ Trio, Alfie Boe, Ball & Boe, Anthony Strong, Roy Wood, Michael Ball, Ian Shaw, Louis Dowdeswell Big Band, Ronnie Scott's Jazz Orchestra, Dennis Rollins, Jo Harrop, Callum Au, Dave Douglas, Marshall Gilkes, Jim Mullen, Laurence Cottle, Tom Seals, Chris Montague, Trish Clowes, Tom Ollendroff, Alessio Menconi, The Filthy Six, Alex Garnett, Andrew McCormack, Alex Hitchcock, CC Smugglers, Greg Coulson, Ashton Jones, Scarlet Pines, Dave O'Higgins, Big Daddy Wilson,
Liane Carroll and many more.
I started playing at 6 years old. I went to the Northamptonshire Music & Performing arts Trust where I grew up, and gained the experience of playing in big band’s from the age of 10. At 16, I joined NYJO (National Youth Jazz Orchestra) and played in the second band every Saturday for a couple of years. In the meantime, I was studying music technology at Northampton College but left after only 1 year. It was at this time I was gigging regularly around Northamptonshire and became a professional musician.
At 17, I took 1 year out of education to see how much work I could get just playing. It was at this time when I auditioned for an established popular new roots band ‘CC Smugglers’. I fortunately got the gig and embarked upon my first European tour just 1 month later. After travelling Europe for 2 years with CC’, I left the band and became a freelance musician.
I moved to London in 2018 and immediately was playing on the London jazz circuit. It was on the circuit where I got the chance to meet and play with the incredible pianist/Hammond Organist Ross Stanley for the first time. He recommended me to fill in for the formidable Nigel Price Organ Trio. I have been lucky enough to be first call ever since and have done multiple lengthy UK Tours and realised 2 studio albums with them ever since. (‘Wes Reimagined’ - 2021 & ‘That’s It, Right There.’ - 2023.
I have more recently joined the brilliant tenor saxophonist, Trish Clowes and her band ‘My Iris’. I took over from U.K. heavyweight jazz drummer, James Maddren. The band consists of Trish, Chris Montague on guitar and once again, Ross Stanley. My Iris have released 1 EP since joining the band called ‘Wild Swimming’. We play as often as we can and have been known to have the New York legendary trumpeter, Dave Douglas joining us on occasion.
In terms of my big band playing, I’m fortunate enough to be playing drums for the Louis Dowdeswell Big Band here in London. Louis’ big band is in collaboration with the composer, arranger, orchestrator, trombonist, Callum Au. I played on Louis’ upcoming big band album which is due to be released this year! I have also been known to booked for Callum Au’s big band sessions and the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra on occasion.
I was lucky enough to be featured in Jazzwise magazine’s in the ‘Taking Off’ section in 2023. Read the article here!
In terms of the pop/rock side of my playing, I became the drummer for the world renown singer, Alfie Boe at the start of 2023 through recommendation. Since then, I have travelled and played in Tokyo Japan, played the summer festival run of shows and the Alfie Boe U.K. Tour which stretched across 6 weeks playing in some of the UK’s finest concert halls. I also took a tip to Saudi Arabia to play with the Alfie Boe + Michael Ball project ‘Ball & Boe’ along with the National Symphony Orchestra.
Whilst I’m not touring, I’m recording and playing gigs in and around London each day. If you have a project you might have me in mind for, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
"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."
"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."
"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