Photograph by Monika S Jakubowska

With the release on 14 June of his new trio album, Inside Out, pianist Richard Fairhurst once again brings his spellbinding touch and sophistication to bear on an intriguing set of original compositions along with a couple of tunes by Carla Bley.

Often talked about in the same breath as Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau and Chick Corea, Fairhurst’s new music for the trio explore composition and free improvisation in a sound world that uses space and meditation.

To find out a little more about the thinking behind the pianist’s musical philosophy, we asked Richard to tell us about his top ten favourite albums.

  1. Miles Davis – My Funny Valentine – The 1964 Concert

The greatest Miles quintet playing standards just before Wayne Shorter joined the band. The whole thing is telepathic. Miles and George Coleman sound incredible. I love how melodic George Coleman’s solos are, and a 20 year old Tony Williams on fire. Herbie’s solo on All Of You is one of the great piano solos on record. I must have listened to this record hundreds of times.

  1. Bill Evans – Sunday at the Village Vanguard

Perfection! As soon as you hear the first note you are in that room, the sound of the audience and the atmosphere are palpable on the two Vanguard records. This recording paved the way for the piano trio becoming a creative entity with the interaction of the piano and bass. Every time I hear this record, I hear something new. Stunning versions of Scott La Faro’s compositions Gloria’s Step and Jade Visions that still feel new today.

  1. Keith Jarrett – Belonging

In my opinion Jarrett’s best album with his European quartet, most people may pick ‘My Song’ but this record is the one for me. I don’t know why Jarrett stopped composing as his pieces are so brilliant. Such a beautiful record. Spiral, Long as You Know You’re Living Yours, The Windup and Blossom. Amazing music.

  1. Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – Ella & Louis

I love the contrast of Ella and Louis’ singing together and Louis’ horn playing is another element making this record a classic. Great tunes and the supporting band is the Oscar Peterson trio. There’s a carefree, joyous feeling about this record that makes the music sound effortless.

  1. Wayne Shorter – Speak No Evil

Out of all the Blue Note records from the mid 60’s this is my favourite. Waynes composing style at its peak, such original classic melodies. Wayne has always been a favourite composer of mine and this record had an huge impact on me when I started learning to play.

  1. Herbie Hancock – Empyrean Isles

The best Herbie record for me – so burning, the best Freddie Hubbard. The swing the groove are incredible and out of nowhere comes ‘The Egg’ a crazy track, so different to everything else on the album. This appears alongside ‘Cantaloupe Island’ one of Herbie’s most famous riff based compositions and Ron and Tony are so tight and in the pocket you can listen to it over and over again.

  1. John Taylor – Rosslyn

John Taylor’s great trio album with Marc Jonson and Joey Baron. JT was a huge influence for me, and I was lucky enough to perform with him and record a 2 piano album called ‘Duets’. An experience I will never forget, such a special musician and human being.

  1. Paul Bley – Open, To Love

The freedom of pure spontaneity in Paul Bley’s music is magical – the sound of this solo piano record is something different to what I had heard before. The version of Carla Bley’s ‘Ida Lupino’, a track he played often is stunning.

  1. Kenny Wheeler – Gnu High

Kenny’s unique sound and compositional approach make this the complete record for me. It was Jarrett’s last recording as a sideman and his playing is outrageously creative. It’s a stellar line-up with Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette on it too. Groundbreaking record.

  1. Norma Winstone – Somewhere Called Home

Norma’s vocals and the perfect accompaniment from John Taylor, alongside the contrasting sound of Tony Coe make this record very special. Tunes such as ‘Cafe’, ‘Tea For Two’ and ‘Hi Lili Hi Lo’ are gorgeous and the connection between the musicians is pure instinctive alignment.

Inside Out by Richard Fairhurst is released by Ubuntu Music on CD, Digital & Vinyl on Friday 14 June 2024 – For more information visit Richard’s website

Tour Dates:

8 June – Clun Valley Jazz, Shropshire

11 June – The Vortex (album launch)

13 June – Corn Exchange Jazz Club, Ross-on-Wye

28 June – 1000 Trades, Birmingham