John Taylor/Richard Fairhurst: Duets review – graceful, short-lived piano duo

(Basho)

This empathic piano-duo album was intended as the first of a series of recorded exchanges between the great British pianist John Taylor and one of his most accomplished former students, Richard Fairhurst. Taylor died suddenly last month, so the recorded debut of this graceful partnership has sadly become its farewell. Five of the pieces are originals, the other six by pianists Bill Evans and Pete Saberton, and by Taylor’s close friend Kenny Wheeler. Perhaps because Wheeler shared something of Evans’ romantic attunement to fragility and impermanence, the album often feels like a salutation to Taylor’s crucial early influence. The opening Epitaph to Sabbo is a delicately freeform dialogue, but it gives way to dance-like systems music, and then an intensifying reverie. Fairhurst’s Open Book is a rolling ballad, Wheeler’s tango Sly Eyes gets a playfully respectful treatment, and Taylor’s Evans Above showcases his famously subtle touch. Evans’ Turn Out the Stars is a big highlight, with the two players often inseparable in its tender theme statement, and benignly provocative towards each other in the superb ensuing improvisation.

Contributor

John Fordham

The GuardianTramp

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