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Richard Fairhurst was 19 when he released the first of three albums as the leader of The Hungry Ants. Approaching his 50th birthday in 2024, he has gone on to become one of the most distinctive pianists and composers in the UK. He presents his ideas on Inside Out in a piano trio arrangement. This is a format he began exploring when he formed

” data-original-title title>Richard Fairhurst’s Triptych with Danish bassist Jasper Hoiby and New York drummer Chris Vatalaro and released Amusia (Babel, 2009).

Inside Out features Fairhurst’s long-standing collaborators,

Dave Whitford
Dave Whitford

bass, acoustic

” data-original-title title>Dave Whitford on bass and

Tim Giles

” data-original-title title>Tim Giles on drums. The sound they have developed is based on the structures of Fairhurst’s work. The trio then freely improvises, taking ideas and imaginatively extending them to produce a soundscape of precise melodic invention. Whitford and Giles are given the space to find their voice as they explore nine Fairhurst compositions alongside two covers of work by

Carla Bley
Carla Bley

1938 – 2023

” data-original-title title>Carla Bley.

The opening track, “Ash Catcher,” sets the scene for much of what follows. Flowing melodic phrases blend with multifaceted rhythms; there are plenty of complex turns, and intricate melodic details gradually emerge. “Uplift,” one of the album highlights, is aptly titled, as Fairhurst’s lightly cascading notes gently flirt with the melody before developing into a bluesy rhythm over Whitford’s impressively lithe bass line. Urgent rhythmic flurries of piano notes repeatedly stop and start in the opening of “Figments.” Giles steers the track in a sharp and unusual rhythmic direction.

Giles’ percussion ushers in Bley’s “Vashkar,” the first of the covers. Fairhurst plays the memorable opening melody. His arrangement is first-rate, finding space for his explorations among the subtle misdirections that Bley incorporated. Whitford plays a meditative bass solo, while Giles adds creative drumming and percussion. Another Bley composition, “King Korn,” provides further scope for improvisation, with Whitford excelling.

Elsewhere, “Farms” is exquisite, with gentle and melodic piano expressions supplely supported by bass. “Sunset” finds the trio using space to great effect and the closing track, “Open Book,” has neat piano progressions that gradually build. This is an intricate tapestry of free improvisation and structured compositions that reveal more with each play. Fairhurst is a craftsman of the first order; alongside Whitford and Giles, he can extend his ideas and create intuitive, searching interplay. The album is highly crafted and highly enjoyable.


Track Listing

Ash Catcher; Eclipse; Uplift; Figments; Inside Out; Vashkar; Farms; Flyby; King Korn; Sunset; Open Book.


Album information

Title: Inside Out
| Year Released: 2024
| Record Label: Ubuntu Music


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