…every time I have sat down to write this review have been sent back to the drawing board having heard something new in the music.

Ubuntu Music UBU0161

Richard Fairhurst (piano); Dave Whitford (bass); Tim Giles (drums)

Eighty-eight keys on a piano and infinite ways in which to use them, and with the ubiquitous piano trio seemingly also possessing unlimited possibilities for creative music making. That is certainly the case here with the latest album from Richard Fairhurst.

With a longstanding reputation and impressive, if surprisingly sparse, discography Fairhurst has with Inside Out presented a quietly assertive album that every time I have sat down to write this review have been sent back to the drawing board having heard something new in the music.

Over the course of the album the pianist delivers a set of original compositions that constantly intrigue. Nothing swings or indeed settles in predictable set rhythmic groove, and if it does it is not for long, as the trio keep moving on and searching within the music. Often a restless pursuit such as this can be exhausting for the listener, but this is a pitfall that Fairhurst avoids by finding something interesting to hang his ideas on, and the tremendous interplay of the trio.

The pianist leads the group through some tough and knotty themes, but always brings everyone home safely by the end of the piece. Just listen to ‘Figments’ that features a probing piano solo that emerges from the theme that is made all the more robust by the support from Dave Whitford and Tim Giles.

The interaction between the musicians is paramount to the success of the music, and bring Fairhurst’s compositions to life. ‘Uplift’ is another piece that has an unpredictable aspect to the melody, moving from introspection to a long and intricate piano line before Fairhurst brings forth a delightful melody that eases into a gentle swing.

There are many varied aspects to Fairhurst’s playing and composing from the flowing and melodic ‘Farms’ that reveals a delicacy in the pianist’s touch at the keyboard that is almost tangible and the gently undulating ‘Ash Catcher’. In addition to his own work, Fairhurst tackles two compositions by Carla Bley in ‘Vashkar’ that opens with some impressive playing from Time Giles before the pianist settles into this clever piece of writing from Bley that brings out a fine solo from him. The other Bley tune is ‘King Korn’ and Carla’s tumbling and unpredictable melody cause the trio no rouble at all before bass and drums establish a solid tempo and rhythmic foundation for Fairhurst’s solo.

In a throwback to the old days, with Inside Out being released on CD and vinyl we have the conundrum of which to plump. Audiophiles will surely want the LP but alas due to playing time of each of the formats the CD plays for 14 minutes longer with three additional tracks. Fear not though as unlike in the past technology has come to the rescue with the ‘missing’ tracks on the LP being made available as downloads. This minor technicality though should not deter anyone from checking out this fine album.