Joel Barford is a 22 year old freelance drummer based in London.  Joel is primarily a jazz drummer and has played with a variety of people such as Chris Montague, Nigel Price Organ Trio, Ross Stanley, Sam Leak, Tom Seals, NYJO, CC Smugglers, Dave Swift, Derek Nash, John Etheridge, Alex Ridout, Pete Long, Liane Carroll and many more.  Joel has played established venues and festivals such as Ronnie Scotts, Pizza Express Jazz Club, 606 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 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.

London Jazz News

 "Is it reasonable to say that Elvin Jones can be heard in the playing of a British 20-year-old? Yes."

"In 2015 I joined an up-and-coming roots/country band called the 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 went on 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."

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"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

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"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."

Benny Greb

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 now gets called to regularly 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 recent release of his new EP 'Where I'm At (Live)'.  To see when I'm next playing with Tom check out my Schedule page!"

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"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

In the summer of 2016, Joel and his friend, pianist, organist and 2016's BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year finalist Noah Stoneman set up a collective hard bop organ quintet based in London playing 50s+ Jazz.  If you wish to find out more about this project, click here! B/S Organ Quintet

"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!"


In spring 2017,  Joel took a 10 day trip to New York to study with some of his icons out there such as Nate Smith, John Riley, Kendrick Scott and Adam Arruda.

"My aim is to be a full time busy working musician sustaining a career in London.  If you ever need a drummer for your next project, album, tour or maybe you want to ask about tuition, don't hesitate to get in touch via my Contact page!"