Peter Fairclough

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Biography of Peter Fairclough

Peter Fairclough has performed and/or recorded with Keith Tippett, Paul Dunmall, Ute Lemper, Huw Warren, Peter Whyman, Steve Berry, John Harle, Kenny Davern, Peter King, The Matrix Ensemble, The Bournemouth Sinfonietta, The Mike Westbrook Orchestra and The Theatre Royal Company (York).

He has 5 CDs to his own credit:

IMAGO (Jazzprint JPVP132)CD - with Keith Tippett), Wild Silk (ASC CD8 - with Keith Tippett), Permission (ASC CD18) and Shepherd Wheel (ASC CD1). The most recent release is Momentarily with Hayley Youell, Fred T Baker & Dave Bainbridge.

In 1995 he was awarded the Peter Whittingham Award and he has toured extensively abroad, appearing at many top jazz festivals.

Peter teaches Drum Kit at The Liverpool Institute of Performing.

"a jazz composer of flair and originality." Jazz on CD

"consistently inventive drumming" Jazzwise Magazine

REVIEWS OF PERMISSION Peter Fairclough. Permission. ASC CD18

The superb handling of the quartet's half-acoustic (drums, saxophone), half-electric (guitar, bass) sonorities, the inventive textures Fairclough conjures from his kit, not to mention the appeal of the compositions, mark this out as a contender for the British jazz album of the year. Fairclough's leadership credentials are further confirmed by his willingness to give both the music and his musicians room to breathe. At times evoking the lyricism of Keith Jarrett's group with Jan Garbarek (check out "Relic"), or Peter Erskine's early '90s New York sessions, the strong identities of each performer ensure there's never a sense of imitation. **** Brian Glasser, Q Magazine

The latest album by drummer and composer Peter Fairclough features an open, piano-less quartet sound with Tim Whitehead on tenor, Mike Walker (guitar) and Dudley Phillips (electric bass). Fairclough has written challenging material - some in collaboration with other members of the band - that runs the gamut from melodic ("Relic", "Na´ve", "Truth") to free-ish ("Manifesto", "In"). "Misnomer" - a great title for a piece - has a distinctive chattering yet straight rhythm. Fairclough's consistently inventive drumming - always seeking new textures - and the intensely melodic soloing of Tim Whitehead stand out. Whitehead, for my money the finest tenor player in Britain today, produces tender interpretations of two beautiful ballads, "Permission" and "Truth". An excellent album. Andy Hamilton, Jazzwise Magazine * MAKING TRACKS Another Yorkshire based musician with a huge reputation is drummer and composer Peter Fairclough, who, when he's not powering the Mike Westbrook Orchestra, always seems to have a bright new project on the go. The latest is a collaboration with guitarist Mike Walker, tenorist Tim Whitehead, and bassist Dudley Phillips. "Permission" (ASC CD 18) is a fascinating exploration of moods and textures conjured up by Peter's own compositions. Highly engaging music - this is one that you keep going back to. Pete Martin, Jazz UK *

SCENE & HEARD Splendid launch of Peter Fairclough's "Permission" album at the Vortex recently. Mike Walker's guitar was more subdued than usual to fit the folk-influenced music, and bassist Dudley Phillips showed that there's more to him than funk chops, while Tim Whitehead's soulful keening tenor was just right for this band, which Fairclough had obviously chosen with great care. The leader's drum patterns created their own kind of hypnotic abstract swing which totally won over this old foot tapper. A beautiful evening - there was even community singing - catch them if you can. Brian Blaine, Jazz UK


"an exciting debut concert" The Star, Sheffield, May 1990 "a quality lineup. Individual contemporary style. Well worth checking" Time Out, May 1990

"Compelling, Original. A very impressive debut. Shepherd Wheel..... is really striking" The Wire, August 1990

"Mercifully free of the usual hackneyed references..... a gem of understated virtuosity" Rhythm, November 1991

"a dazzling display..... brilliantly performed by an excellent eight piece band" The Star, Sheffield, July 1992

"vital, imaginative music. Superb band" Time Out, February 1995

"a Musical Tapestry" What's On, York, March 1995

"Excellent debut album. A jazz composer of flair and originality." Jazz on CD, May 1995

"an absorbing evocation" Pete Martin, Jazz UK, May 1995 "A fresh and original piece. Some vivacious ensemble work." Sheffield Telegraph, September 1995

"A mightily impressive eight piece group. The playing is strong, superlative at times" The Wire, October 1995

"interesting and stimulating CD from this enterprising group" Musician, December 1995

"interesting and stimulating CD from this enterprising group" Musician, December 1995


The pieces on this excellent debut album by drummer Pete Fairclough's new group grew from a memorable rhythmic idea representing the Shepherd Wheel of the title track. That number was first performed a few years ago in a group the drummer led with tenorist Tim Whitehead. It impressed me a lot then, as it does in its new incarnation with Whitehead replaced by Paul Dunmall, and an augmented group. Also featured are vocalist Christine Tobin, guitarist Rick Bolton, Pete Whyman on clarinet and saxes, and Pete Saberton on piano. Pete Fairclough, based in Sheffield, is a long-time member of Mike Westbrook's band; other credits include work with Pete King, John Harle and Jonathan Gee. The long title-track features a pretty, flowing melody with polyrhythmic backing. Vocalist Christine Tobin and Paul Dunmall are prominent and this is some of the saxist's strongest playing on the disc. The varied compositions are melodic, often folksy; the sometimes surreal lyrics are by the leader. They celebrate Sheffield's 19th century industrial past in a novel way, a theme which lends coherence to the suite as a whole. (The Shepherd Wheel was a water-powered grindstone for steel.) From the free tempo of "Yaller Belly" and the rock feel of "Saint Monda", to the reflective "Stoneburst", these pieces show Pete Fairclough as a jazz composer of flair and originality. Andy Hamilton Jazz on CD May 1995

The Fairclough Group Shepherd Wheel ASC CD1 The old 'don't judge a book by its cover' warning is set into sharp focus on Shepherd Wheel. This is a concept album about a 16th century, water-powered grinding wheel; the cover shows a rural labourer honing a knife on the wheel itself. Lazy preconceptions that this could well be a po-faced, finger-in-the-ear nightmare are blown away on the introductory "Jacob's Ladder", where Peter Whyman's lines evoke Stravinsky circa Three Pieces For Solo Clarinet, and when Christine Tobin's vocal comes in on the title track, her smoky, folky tones are set against a busy, jazz-inflected backing with Paul Dunmall's Coltranesque sax lines buffeting the melody. Drummer Peter Fairclough, sometime Mike Westbrook sideman, is the linchpin here. He's harnessed a mightily impressive eight piece group equally at home with squalling improvisation, cool grooves and subtle, hovering backdrops to Tobin's voice. There are folk threads running through the melodies and the storyline but this is no half-baked stab at musical pluralism. Crucially, a new genre emerges, and it's not 'Jolk' - or a mere grab-bag of styles. The playing is strong, superlative at times, born from eight formidable musical personalities. On "The Yaller Belly" the musicians swarm around the melody; on the following "Saint Monda" pianist Pete Saberton's clunking chords and Tippetesque runs hound Whyman's quicksilver alto. Something says this shouldn't work, but it does - brilliantly. MIKE BARNES THE WIRE, October 1995


The Independent on Sunday 30 September 2001-11-07 ****

Peter Fairclough and Keith Tippett wild silk ASC A beautifully recorded and Astonishingly composed sounding series of meditative Improvisations for percussion and piano. By playing the piano from the inside as well as the outside, Tippett creates a huge range of textural effects. First released in 1996, and made available again to coincide with the duo's tour in October, this is one of the best British jazz records of the last decade. Phil Johnson Keith Tippett/Peter Fairclough Wild Silk ASC CD8 Wild Silk appeared almost unannounced on ASC in 1996, and is now being re-launched on the same label, preceding a tour by the duo later this year. Fairclough - whose drumming has always featured a strong concept - is also a composer and band-leader who's worked in a variety of contexts from Mike Westbrook to Paul Dunmall. It was the first time he and Keith had played together. As Fairclough explains it, "Keith and I both said we would turn up at the studio with some pieces. But the nearer it got, the less confident I was about mine. So at the studio Keith said 'Shall we improvise?' And we did". What they played is what you hear, except for three similar-sounding pieces where the piano and percussion parts were recorded separately. Tippett has an enormous stylistic range, and each track has its own distinctive character. Abstract free structures - as on "Under Thunder" - are set alongside the most gorgeous, slow-moving jazz harmonies found on the title track, "Wild Silk". Here Fairclough is a gentle percussionist, focusing mostly on brushes. "Sketch for Gary" is closest to a jazz groove. "In the Glade of the Woodstone Bird" - the longest track at nearly ten minutes - has an almost Schoenbergian eerie expressionism, with piano preparations and exotic percussion. The concluding "Humble" is hymn-like, and remarkably coherent given its spontaneous creation. Wild Silk turns out to be a classic of 90s free Improv and it's good to see its earlier neglect put to rights. Andy Hamilton, The Wire, March 2001 jazz UK Making Tracks Pete Martin Keith Tippett is another pianist with a unique musical perspective, and his latest recording - a collaboration with percussionist Peter Fairclough - is a further demonstration of his amazing ability to come up with new ideas. "Wild Silk"(ASC CD8) is a consistently absorbing set of duets, with both players exploring the full emotional and dynamic range of a variety of percussion instruments. I suspect that this is one of those records which will stay fresh in the mind long after many more routine sessions have been forgotten.

PETER FAIRCLOUGH AND KEITH TIPPETT Wild Silk (ASC): More good stuff from this small label. Percussionist Fairclough is best known for his work with the Westbrook Band but is moving further into the free atmospheric zone where Tippett has long been resident. Together they make intelligent, fairly abstract music, full of space, scraping sounds, rattling and bells. Tippett makes the listener fully aware of the metallic components of the piano, playing its interior and adding objects to rattle about on the strings. Fairclough is melodic as well as rhythmic in his approach. It's a meeting of like minds rather than opposites and the results are often very beautiful indeed. Peter Bacon Birmingham Post

ALBUM OF THE ISSUE Peter Fairclough & Keith Tippett WILD SILK (ASC CD8) * Tippett releases are not the commonest of events and he certainly is an uncommon pianist: perhaps this gives new meanings to the pursuit of Rare Music. Fairclough is a percussionist and drummer - to these ears a more reflective and almost orchestral player than the high-energy impro drummers you might associate - and the combination is a highly fruitful one: both sets of instruments (Tippet plays some percussion, zither and plastic pan-pipes too) cover the entire tonal spectrum, can be abstract of pitch or tuned, produce notes or patterns of fully variable duration. If I seem forced into music textbook language, it's only to try to do justice to the enormous possibilities of KT's music as soloist or collaborator. There's nothing academic about the musical product if you don't wish to analyse it; it is by turns beautiful, exciting, reflective, exhilarating, just like any other great music, and the musicians work together and apart like any partnership (improvisation or not), contrasting, complementing, developing each other's ideas and leaving space for the other to develop. If you've ever thrilled to Tippett in action, if you yearn sometimes after a jazz where theme/chorus/solo are not the exclusive building blocks, if you like to feel challenged but not intimidated, if you fancy a walk around the edges of harmony, rhythmic patterning and instrumental technique, then this is a disc you should hear. If not, I wonder what jazz does for you at all... Steve Henwood Venue

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