Hannah Horton – Baritone Sax, Tony Kofi – Baritone Sax, Pete Whittaker – Organ, Steve Taylor – Drums, Joel Prime – percussion.


Was this a first? Neither Hannah nor Tony could recall a single instance of a two baritone line-up, ever. Was it a problem? Far from it! This was a powerhouse quintet that commanded the stage and delighted the audience, the latter even bordering on raucous in their appreciation!

There were differences in style, approach and tone between the two saxophonists, with Tony playing with complete assurance and a stronger tone on his 1937 Conn (that he affectionately calls Fat Betty), as you would expect of the Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year in 2022. Hannah has been called a melodic maverick because she is never afraid to experiment with her interpretations of tunes and uses the complete register of her instrument, dipping into the bottom end quite frequently!

Pete (making a very welcome second appearance at the Club within a month), Steve and Joel provided strong and effective backing throughout. I was impressed with the understanding and integration demonstrated by Steve and Joel’s playing – it was as if there was one person with five arms and their solos were well constucted and unflashy.

The set list was a mixture of standards and Hannah’s own inspirational compositions (especially Chasing Daisies) that added variety and interest to the evening.

The standards were Kenny Barron’s Sunshower, opening with an exotic rhythm and featuring a propulsive solo from Tony; Dexter Gordon’s Hank Panky with another rollicking solo from Tony before Hannah demonstrated her versatility and range in hers; Monk’s Ask Me Now had Tony alone playing this beautiful tune in a relaxed and wistful style that made it one of the highlights of the evening. 

Wes Montgomery’s Full House gave Pete the the opportunity for a lengthier and very spirited solo supported strongly by Steve and Joel whose mutual empathy with each other and with Pete made this another highlight for me even before Tony gave us an amazingly long demonstration of circular breathing! Footprints was chosen as a tribute to Wayne Shorter in a cool, spaced-out version featuring a beautifully constructed solo from Hannah. Eddie Harris’s Listen Here seguing into Zawinul’s Mercy Mercy Mercy brought the first half to a close in very emphatic fashion with an irresistible beat and  the baritones letting off fireworks at each other!

Meanwhile, Hannah’s compositional prowess contributed Peace Speak, a medium tempo number on which she gave us an inspired solo, well supported again by Steve and Joel; Belle’s Blues, which had a solid, rocking beat and hard blowing from both saxes; Chasing Daisies, an extended number with a beautiful melody and some inspired playing by Hannah and Tony – both together and in a round. Remembering Mr Gone (one of Wayne Shorter’s nicknames) was a gentle ballad with a heartfelt solo by Pete and a solo from Tony that led Hannah to comment “Who would have thought that a baritone could sound so beautiful”. Her remaining composition – Whisper – was a tribute to her partner; her nuanced playing showed off both of her musical skills to great effect. She is also an enthusiastic and knowledgeable “compere” who thoroughly engages the audience. Bravo!

There were three more standards mixed into the set: Shirley Scott’s Do You Know a Good Thing When You See One?, described by Hannah as a “dirty shuffle” with a superb solo from Pete; Jeannine (Duke Pearson) – a rip-roaring version (which will be on Tony’s next album, called Freedom Sound) and had him contributing headlong excitement before Hannah’s contrastingly complex and inventive solo; and The Return of the Prodigal Son (Ousley) from Hubbard’s  Backlash album which brought the evening to a momentous close, not least because of Steve’s and Joel’s final efforts and then with the audience trying to make more noise than the band had in their appreciation of a great night!


Hannah Horton and Tony Kofi Quintet

Friday 09 Jun 2023

Photos from the event

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