Tom Arthurs and Richard Fairhurst: Postcards From Pushkin (2012)
On their previous album, Mesmer (Babel 2007), the duo shared writing credits. This time around Arthurs composed all of the tunes, but Fairhurst's contribution as a player deserves equal credit. As this album demonstrates, the pairing of flugelhorn and piano should be far more popular than it is.
Arthurs' unaccompanied performance, helpfully entitled "Solo," is a spacious and reflective piece characterized by emotional intensity rather than dramatic technical flourishes. It is a strong counter-argument to Arthurs' enigmatically ambiguous statement in the liner notes that "The trumpet solo has no poetry." Fairhurst's own solo piece, "The Judge," is even more spaciousthe repeated short figure creates a hypnotic and oddly unsettling impact. When Arthurs and Fairhurst perform together they still retain this sense of space, creating a mood through interactions that never get cluttered or oppositional. The results range from the downbeat, pessimistic feel of "Darkness" to the gentle romance of "Given Up."
Arthurs and Fairhurst recorded Postcards From Pushkin in St Giles, Cripplegate, a medieval church within London's Barbican regularly used as a concert venueits organ was featured on Rick Wakeman's The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (A&M, 1973). The building's acoustics are at the heart of the album's exceptionally clear and pure sound. Lydia Polzer's lovely photographs and cover design capture and reflect the quiet beauty of the music. Her artistry joins with Arthurs' and Fairhurst's musical creativity to ensure that Postcards From Pushkin is a visual, as well as an aural feast.
Track Listing: The Flirt; Given Up; Silence; Solo; The Judge; Darkness; Half-Milord.
Personnel: Tom Arthurs: flugelhorn; Richard Fairhurst: piano.
Record Label: Babel Label
Style: Modern Jazz