Richard Fairhurst & John Taylor

Duets

(Basho)

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This meeting of two generations of British jazz pianists couldn’t have been foreseen as an epitaph to one of them. It wasn’t even intended as a memorial to the great trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, who died between the recording of the superb four-handed interpretation of his tango-flavoured, typically witty Sly Eyes and the album’s release. Now, however, it will serve as a tribute to John Taylor, who passed away two weeks ago, as well as to Wheeler and to another pianist, Pete Saberton, whose memory is beautifully served by the opening Epitaph To Sabbo and his skilfully interpreted, by turns joyful and reflective 3 P’s Piece. Despite these sad connections and a suite dedicated to another departed soul, the pioneering, subtly expressive jazz pianist Bill Evans, Duets is emphatically uplifting, with Fairhurst and Taylor giving each other space to develop clear, melodic improvisations that brilliantly capture the dedicatees’ characters and illustrate their own strength of personality in bright, warm, genuinely collaborative and heartfelt music.

Rob Adams