'intimately conversational - a dialogue of tonally-subtle shimmers and spacious piano rejoinders'
[John Fordham, The Guardian]
'This is music to hear pin drops by...in essence it's the chance to eavesdrop on two considerable
intelligences communing without words - and that's not something you get everyday.'
'...a very English understatement. Fairhurst likes limitations; he's adept at spinning a long line over one tiny repeating harmonic pattern, and likes to restrict himself to one area of the keyboard. It must have been 20 minutes before he ventured below middle C. Arthurs is similarly ingenious in the way he can make a line seem at once rhapsodically free and focused'
[Ivan Hewett, Daily Telegraph]
As anyone who witnessed their recent riveting duo display at the Vortex will already be aware, trumpeter Tom Arthurs (here operating on fl»gelhorn) and pianist Richard Fairhurst have one of those musical rapports which seem almost telepathic, enabling each to anticipate the other's moves with eerie accuracy.
On this nine-piece album, they not only demonstrate this mutual affinity, but showcase their extraordinary tones, Arthurs consistently polished and poised yet intensely human, Fairhurst luminous and lyrical but pungent where required.
Their material is an intriguing mix of the apparently spontaneous with the clearly pre-arranged, some pieces being spun from hauntingly attractive melodic kernels or spry rhythmic figures, others more abstract in feel; whatever their method, though, the music they produce is of high quality, burnished and elegant, but emotive and affecting. This is not particularly 'easy' music, but richly rewards sustained, careful attention.
[Chris Parker, Vortex Website]
Trumpeter of the moment Tom Arthurs and pianist Richard Fairhurst release their first collaborative record on Babel, a mature, brave and stark album featuring just flügelhorn and piano. Mesmer is simple sounding but subtle, with a mischievous, playful design. It is a sort of conversation, a game of chess or a debate in tongues that is comic and melancholy in equal measure. In places the flügelhorn and piano are so entwined you wonder if Arthurs and Fairhurst are possessed of superhuman powers of concentration (‘Up From Sloth’ and ‘Anguilla’ are examples). Elsewhere they play as solo (‘Beautiful Indifference’ and ‘Keepsake’) or occasionally at odds.
This isn’t an easy record and takes time to understand, meaning Parkinson won’t be play-listing it any time soon. Its melodies may be too complex for the casual listener, and in places even overworked. Fans of a more vigorous, rhythmic and red-blooded jazz may also find Mesmer overly pensive, devoid of thrust and instrumental variety. What it does achieve, though, is luxurious exposure for two beautiful instruments, both generously pitched in a vast, open space to accentuate their details. In Tom Arthurs the flügelhorn couldn’t have a better ambassador, controlling the instrument with a tone that is both strong and eccentric. Fairhurst, meanwhile, plays delicately and with understanding, and has a hint of Bill Evans in his ability to play with intensity in a free, loose form. Between them, these two young players have made a confident record, rejecting the ideal of a grand, domineering debut in favour of a job well done.
[Adam Green, Blues and Soul, 4/5]
There's that old truism that young players start out showing off all the wares in their bag of talent and then, if they mature as they should, they start to realise which ones are the really meaningful ones and confine themselves to developing those. It's the principle of simplify and cut away.
The youthful British flugelhorn player Tom Arthurs and the youthful British pianist Richard Fairhurst have arrived at that point with this quiet collection of duo pieces.
The opener is little gem called Beautiful Indifference, and although it is written by Arthurs, it is played as a solo by Fairhurst. His touch on the keys is beautifully weighted and precise, and the sound of the piano is excellent. Arthurs, too, pays attention to tone, keeping it pure and not quite cool. The title track is a lovely private conversation between the two musicians, full of silences, sympathetic understanding and delicate emotions.
[Peter Bacon, Birmingham Post, ****, CD of the week]