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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tom Arthurs & Richard Fairhurst - Mesmer (Babel, 2007) ****

In an earlier review, I already praised Tom Arthurs for Squash Recipe, an album he made on the British Babel label. He's made yet again a stunning album, called Mesmer, sticking to flügelhorn throughout, and with Richard Fairhurst on piano. There aren't that many piano/trumpet albums (except for Fujii/Tamura), despite the fact that the combination works well. "Mesmer" is of course the German 18th Century physician who claimed he could heal people by bringing them in a trance-like situation through "animal magnetism", based on his concept of invisible fluids and flows which not only connect people, but could also cause disease if obstructed. I'm not claiming this record may heal you, but it's fluid and full of magnetism between the players, to say the least. From the first piece, Beautiful Indifference, Fairhurst sets the tone what going to be a very precise, sensitive and subtle musical excursion. The music itself is calm, avoiding peaks or blunt effects, creating the tension in a subliminal way : implicit rhythm and rythm changes, slight variations on the themes and harmony, and interesting interplay, fluid at times, more angular at others. Yet this is not a romantic outing : the music has its stings and tiny claws. The interplay between these two gifted musicians is a joy to hear. Listen to "Anguilla" here below to get an idea. But each musician plays also a solo track, "Infinite" is flugelhorn solo, and "Beautiful Indifference" piano solo. A great record!

Listen to samples
Beautiful Indifference

You can buy a download version here.