Hannah Horton is an artist who goes her own way. As an award-winning, Selmer endorsed saxophonist and composer, a bandleader, and a successful recording artist, her strong, clear tone, powerful rhythmic sense and compelling sense of melody make her an unmistakeable voice on the scene. Recognition from the the musical establishment has come in the form of awards, endorsements and diplomas, but it’s the way that audiences respond to her unashamedly positive, uninhibitedly personal music, and the emotional honesty of her accessible, engaging take on jazz that delivers the definitive accolade.
Hannah’s journey to career fulfilment encompassed all the inspirations and challenges that inform her warm, open onstage persona. Growing up in rural Essex, Hannah was introduced to clarinet and saxophone by an inspiring music teacher. Music was always a communal activity for her, a way to make friends and reach out to the people in her life. Her talents were recognised early, and she was encouraged to develop her skill through the Junior Guildhall programme, and then to a music degree at Goldsmiths (“I slept in my car and was teaching students on the side to make it happen!”) where she was mentored by UK legend Mark Lockheart. Equally at home with jazz and classical music, she worked with the National Youth Musical Theatre programme and at NYJO, where she played alongside a young Amy Winehouse before going on to a Masters Degree at Trinity Laban and an advanced post-grad at the same institution. Her teaching practice had grown to over eighty students, and she released her debut set of recordings ‘Forget Me Not’ in 2012. Then a set of difficult personal circumstances intervened – her father’s illness, a toxic relationship, and finally the global pandemic all intervened to put touring and recording on hold. Her deep relationship to her music and her faith in herself as an artist remained central to her, and powered her triumphant return to recording in 2021 with her critically acclaimed album Inside Out . Supported by the same band of musicians she’s played with for fifteen years, she channelled the struggles of the intervening years into a set of tunes that were always deeply sincere and unfailingly uplifting. The response to Hannah’s return was overwhelming. Reviews were universally positive, gigs sold out, and she was nominated for Best Newcomer at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards. She’s performed at all of the UK’s most prominent jazz venues such as Ronnie Scott’s, The Royal Festival Hall, the Barbican, and the 606 Jazz Club, selling out both her 2021 London Jazz Festival shows. Her status as an internationally recognised artist has continued to grow.
Alongside her own artistic career, education and giving back to the community has always been an important part of Hannah’s musical identity. She founded J-Steps, a jazz ensemble for female and non binary improvising musicians, and received the 2023 Parliamentary Jazz Award for Jazz Education Of The Year in recognition of her accomplishments.
“Music is where I’ve always found happiness. It’s my happy medicine! I had some wonderful support when I was learning, but I’ve also learnt what it’s like to not be supported, so giving support to young players is so important to me.”
Hannah’s music always prioritises melody and a sense of playfulness to create a very personal take on jazz that is informed equally by a strong affinity to groove. There are echoes of some of her favourites like Mark Lockheart and Tim Garland, and classical composers like Gerald Finzi – “I just love his melodies!” – but ultimately there’s no-one else who sounds quite like her – a Melodic Maverick.
“Hannah makes the big beast baritone sax sound like an angel” Ian Shaw
“Rising star Hannah Horton is turning heads” BBC Music Magazine ****
“There’s a deeper dimension to her art” BBC Music Magazine ****
“One of the most satisfying albums I’ve heard this year. Highly recommended.” ****
Matthew Ruddick Kind of jazz
“Bold and gritty playing” Jazzwise ***
“Hannah Horton blows funky tenor, gutsy baritone and can write a good tune”
Lance Liddle bebop spoken here
“An album without flaw”, Jazz Views
“Absorbing, emotive, delicate, and utterly compelling” Simply Jazz Talk
“There’s genuine emotion in Horton’s playing” The Jazz Mann
“Hannah plays with so much soul and emotion” Tony Kofi
“Hannah is innovative and fearless” Sammy Stein
I felt lonely and non accepted as a child growing up.
I played the sax but I lacked the confidence to take the risk and put my playing and writing out there.
It’s tough being a female instrumentalist in the jazz world. It’s a struggle to get your voice heard and historically it’s been a male dominated environment. Receiving great worldwide reviews and recognition for ‘Inside Out’ gave me confidence and self belief that I was really an artist.
It felt amazing hearing how much people liked my music and how it touched them, from both peers and music lovers. I never thought I would sell out at the London Jazz Festival.
I had an amazing student who had the trust in my dreams and hopes that I might achieve and he supported me emotionally. I am now an internationally recognised Jazz artist and recently won a Parliamentary Jazz Award. I now feel accepted and no longer lonely.
Inside Out – Hannah Horton Quartet (2021)
Forget Me Not – Hannah Horton Quartet (2012)
Every Step I Take – Charlotta Kerbs and The Strays (2022)
Safe Places – Esther Bennett, Terence Collie (2021)