Richard Fairhurst

An exceptionally talented English jazz pianist and composer, attracted serious acclaim in the mid 1990s.
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Artist Biography

b. 1974, Leicester, Leicestershire, England. Fairhurst began playing piano at the age of 15 and within a few years was displaying his mastery of the instrument. An exceptionally talented pianist and composer, he attracted serious critical attention in the mid-90s when a saxophone quartet he composed was short listed for the Cornelius Cardew Composition Prize. Also during this period, he won the Pat Smythe Award for Young Jazz Musicians Of Outstanding Talent. In 1994, he appeared at Ronnie Scott’s club in London, where he played with Iain Ballamy, who appeared on Fairhurst’s debut CD. In 1996, Fairhurst spent several months in New York City on a scholarship at the New School that allowed him to expand his playing and composition skills. His musical collaboration with drummer Tim Giles continued when they formed a duo in 1997 to appear at the 3rd European Tournament of Improvisation in Poitiers, Frances. Following that 1994 gig at Ronnie Scott’s, Fairhurst had formed a quartet he named the Hungry Ants. In 1997, he recorded with this quartet at Senegal’s St. Lois Jazz Festival, where the band appeared under the sponsorship of the British Council. In addition to performing, the group held student workshops at the Conservatoire in Dakar. Subsequently, Fairhurst collaborated with the British Council in arranging for musical instruments and other equipment to be made available to students there.

Fairhurst’s late 90s commissions included a work for the Leicestershire Schools Symphonic Wind Band and Contemporary Dance Group, performed at the 1997 Edinburgh Festival, and reprised in 1998 at Manchester’s Opera Theatre. Among other commissions have been new scores for two restored silent films from the 20s, Rain and Manhattan, for Phoenix Arts, Leicester, that were premiered in April 1999 by the Hungry Ants expanded for the occasion by Chris Batchelor (trumpet), and Stuart Hall (violin/guitar). Fairhurst has also worked with saxophonists Osian Roberts and James Allsopp and bass player Steve Watts. Fairhurst has performed with his quartet at the Glasgow Jazz Festival, the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, and also in Cologne, Belfast, and many venues around the UK.

In 1999 Fairhurst was made a Steinway International Artist, one of the youngest pianists to be added to a distinguished roster and only the second British jazz pianist to be so honoured. He has been one of only three composers awarded New Works commissions by Birmingham Jazz. He has also worked in the theatre, playing solo piano music composed by Huw Warren for a production of Take The Fire at The Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith. Fairhurst’s suite, recorded on his album Standing Tall, was nominated as Best Work in the 2004 BBC Jazz Awards. Imaginative and fluent, Fairhurst is a growing musical talent and his repertoire shows awareness of all that is happening in jazz.