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Basho Records
Release Date: 7th AUGUST 2015
Title "DUETS”
Artist Richard Fairhurst and John Taylor
Catalogue Number SRCD 49-2

RICHARD FAIRHURST AND JOHN TAYLOR
DUETS
RICHARD FAIRHURST (piano)
JOHN TAYLOR (piano)

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ALBUM AVAILABLE AT JAZZCDS

  1. Epitaph to Sabbo (Fairhurst/Taylor) 5:59
  2. 3 P’s Piece – Part I (Saberton)3:55
  3. 3 P’s Piece – Part II (Saberton) 2:11
  4. Open Book (Fairhurst) 4:16
  5. Epitaph To Kenny (Fairhurst/Taylor) 2:19
  6. Sly Eyes (Wheeler) 4:47
  7. Evans Above (Taylor) 7:27
  8. Very Early (Evans) 3:35
  9. Turn Out The Stars (Evans) 6:31
  10. Re: Person I Knew (Evans) 6:03
  11. Growth In An Old Garden (Fairhurst) 5:11

“Duets” is the first outcome of a fascinating project – an album of piano music played on two pianos. It is a collaboration between Richard Fairhurst and one of his great influences and mentors, John Taylor, who sadly died shortly before the album was to be released. It is Taylor's only recording on two pianos. The experience of this scenario for the musicians was special – given the rare opportunity of interacting with another piano. The result is stunning in terms of sound and arrangement.

The collaboration began at the Steinway Festival in 2010, where the two musicians first played together. When asked which piano player he would most like to work with, Richard Fairhurst immediately suggested John Taylor as a musician with ‘a touch and sound that really spoke to me’. Fairhurst and Taylor began by exploring the music of Bill Evans, keen that the project should avoid standards, explore harmony and understatement but also feel more contemporary. Approaching the Evans pieces from an original angle, both players felt an immediate musical connection, using the music as a springboard for their own individual approaches and perspectives.

Fairhurst and Taylor played the Steinway festival three times and also again joined forces at a 70th birthday concert for Taylor with the BBC in 2012. Fairhurst says: ‘We experimented with rhythmic ideas, texture and space. Each performance involved extensive rehearsal, and as the approach to the music developed, it began to feel as if this should become a less sporadic and more enduring project’.

The repertoire for this project includes original material and a Bill Evans suite that looks back to the beginnings of the project. It also draws from the work of two crucial and now sadly missed figures of the British jazz scene – Pete Saberton and Kenny Wheeler, both friends and great inspirations to Fairhurst and Taylor. Although Duets was recorded before Wheeler’s death, the album has inevitably assumed a feeling of warm tribute to these great musicians. Wheeler’s Sly Eyes contains many of his characteristic twists and turns, whilst also containing an element of humour. Pete Saberton’s tunes, legendarily tricky and unpredictable, are particularly difficult to deliver in this more considered, spacious style.

Both musicians felt very aware of the dangers of overcrowding the music – with two pianos, the potential for a cascade of notes is very real. Yet the music on Duets has a reflective quality, and a real feeling of space. Fairhurst and Taylor have been careful not to make their improvising too dense, in order to achieve what Fairhurst describes as a ‘considered elegance’. The overall aim was to create a blend, with the effect of one instrument playing rather than two – sometimes Fairhurst and Taylor play together, but sometimes they play separately within an arrangement.

REVIEWS

10/08/2015 London Jazz News

The music throughout has a reflective quality, as if the pianists were having a conversation and seeing where it would take them. There are hints of them holding back, a gentle trepidation as if they were leaving some space to allow themselves to think. It is a fine CD.

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09/08/2015 Dave Gelly, The Observer 4 stars****

the whole set is remarkable for the amount of light and space these virtuosi are careful to include in their joint performance
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08/08/2015 Mike Hobart, FT 4 stars****

Delicate and detailed release themed on inspirations and influences includes epitaphs to UK jazz figures
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07/08/2015 Cormac Larkin, The Irish Times 4 stars****

This gentle-spoken dialogue with a talented protege is all you would expect from such a master – thoughtful, explorative, revelatory, mischievous, with nods to his own formative influences, pianist Bill Evans and Taylor’s long-time collaborator, the late trumpeter and composer Kenny Wheeler.
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06/08/2015 John Fordham, The Guardian 4 stars****

empathic piano-duo album... superb improvisation

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02/08/2015 Rob Adams, Herald Scotland

Duets is emphatically uplifting, with Fairhurst and Taylor giving each other space to develop clear, melodic improvisations that brilliantly capture the dedicatees’ characters and illustrate their own strength of personality in bright, warm, genuinely collaborative and heartfelt music.

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01/08/2015 John Bungey, The Times 4 stars****

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30/07/2015 Matthew Wright, The Arts Desk

'The intention was that the duo sound be as seamless as possible, in which they have succeeded with remarkable success. Their approach is sufficiently spare and restrained to avoid the sound of fistfuls of notes, and the mutual understanding between the two is so good that the flow from one musician to the other is virtually seamless.'

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15/07/2015 Selwyn Harris, Jazzwise 4 stars****

'It's an intelligent, seriously considered project in which the pair have discovered a lot of common ground with which to develop their own personal visions...'

 

09/07/2015 Stephen Graham, Marlbank

'Quite gentle in places, with a captivating calmness to it in its best moments but full of torrid passion where needed, these duets are an unalloyed delight.'

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