Reviews of The Imaginary Delta

Daniel Spicer, Jazzwise:

Mike Butler, Manchester Evening News:

Dave Sumner,

Adam Fairhall, The Imaginary Delta: Originally commissioned for the Manchester Jazz Festival, pianist/composer Fairhall bought together a mix of early jazz forms and current technology and music approaches. So what you have are piano, drums, trumpet, trombone and clarinets joined by didley bow, jug, electronics, turntables, and samples of vintage jazz. It has that same synthesis of haunting and nostalgic warmth as anything that Charles Mingus recorded during his most creative moments, and switches from futuristic avant-garde to Olde Tyme swing with alarming seamlessness. An album of outstanding scope and vision. co-Pick of the Week.

Francois Couture,

With this record, UK pianist Adam Fairhall is rethinking the delta blues in post-modern terms. Through six original compositions, he manages to combine traditional instrumentation (clarinet, trombone, trumpet, bass, drums, jug) and electronic devices (laptop, turntable), drawing inspiration from the delta blues, European free improvisation, and the mash-up culture. Paul J. Rogers spins period recordings, which he treats and integrates to Fairhall’s playing (a blend of ragtime, stride, and free). Strong arrangements, puzzling moments, a very successful artistic proposition.

Vittorio Lo Conte, (dodgy Google trans;ation from the original Italian):

Usually publications of Slam Productions are dedicated to jazz
more modern, but of course we take the liberty to publish even
something special, like this amazing live concert of the band
around the pianistAdam Fairhall.
apprezare The reasons are many who do.Certainly the crowds
and special atmosphere that musicians communicate to those who now listen, and
the music of course, that brings together past and present without
conflict of any kind, from Duke Ellington’s early atmosphere of the things
modern, post-bop jazz from with some reference to the free.
A mosaic that gives rise to a fascinating painting with color, which
blends the past and the present as they have already done great
as Charles Mingus
The group is made ​​only by the leader on piano, byJames Allsopp
to clarinets (a great solo on dolphianoTutwiler Train
Stomp, while elsewhere it makes us feel the archaic sounds of the band
New Orleans),Chris Bridges trombone,SteveChadwickon trumpet,Tim Fairhallon
bass,Gaz Hughesondrums andPaul J.Rogers,who with
his turntables and electronic instruments with which launches the samples so
as to add special effects to sound magma.
The music is simply fun, unconventional, created by a mind
that is inspired visionary, distantly, to precendenti of Mingus who
willingly invited pianists of his groups to play stride and between
The samples of the voices that sound archaic blues make us understand, if
we had forgotten, what is really the swing, while the
emotional participation of the musicians do the rest.
A hard, in short, everything to which he escape aseptic atmosphere
of a recording studio, yet you need tools tomodern communication dall’addetto
managed to work well.The pianist and leader is just an original mind from
which we expectreally

 Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery (New York):
The Imaginary Delta: Live July 2011 (Slam 289; UK) Adam Fairhall on
piano & compositions, James Allsopp on clarinets, Chris Bridges on
trombone & jug, Steve Chadwick on trumpet, Paul J. Rogers on laptop,
electronics, turntable & diddely bow, Tim Fairhall on bass and Gaz
Hughes on drums. The Slam label has a long history of discovering new
and often unrecorded musicians from Great Britain, as well as South
America and Italy. Pianist & composer Adam Fairhall is a new name for
me and here debuts an impressive septet. This disc was recorded live
at the Manchester Jazz Festival in July of 2011. Starting off with a
strange mutated blues sample the group soon jump into a strong,
hard-swinging groove. The team of frontline horns – clarinet, trumpet
and trombone, has a distinctive sound that seems to dip into some New
Orleans-like rambunctious. This band is consistently tight and
spirited with exuberant piano from Mr. Allsopp. “Sedalia Rag” does
actually sound like a rag and the entire vibe does make me smile.
Utility player, Paul J. Rogers, knows how to insert certain samples
or sounds to enhance those old school references from jazz’s long
history. There is an ancient blues/jazz voice by Ivy Smith sampled on
“Arabian Fantasy” and “Nightmare Blues” by Victoria Spivey used on
another piece. The band erupts on “Tutwiler Train Stomp” which
features some smokin’ clarinet, trombone and piano solos. Mr.
Fairhall’s septet do a good job of keeping one foot in the past and
the other in the present without resorting to copying an older style
too closely. I guess this makes sense since this is “The Imaginary

Reviews of Second-Handed Blues

Jazzwise Review, December 2011:

Review from N.W.Jazzworks, summer 2011: 

Adam Fairhall & Paul J Rodgers
Second-Handed Blues

While on the whole jazz is considered a forward thinking art form, with its generational breaks with the past and innovative shifts in style, it’s also true to say that many of even the most avant-garde players have looked back for inspiration. Think Thelonious Monk adapting J P Johnson’s stride technique and adding bebop, or Sun Ra borrowing from Fletcher Henderson’s big band arrangements to create some of the most ‘out there’ music with his Arkestra. There have always been musicians on the fringes looking over their shoulder in order to move forward, and it is within this fine tradition that Cheshire based pianist Adam Fairhall has firmly placed himself. 

Jumping from Scott Joplin, to McCoy Tyner, to Champion Jack Dupree, Fairhall’s style on Second-Handed Blues is hard to pin down at first, but as the album takes form it becomes clear that this is a player with a very good idea of what he wants. This is not pastiche, or irony, this is an album of compositions that utilises the patchwork jazz history cohesively, combining elements of several traditions to produce a unique and innovative sound. In Paul J Rogers, Fairhall has obviously found a collaborator on the same wave length. His use of contemporary production techniques and archive material adds a depth to this record, moving it from a perfectly interesting solo piano outing, to something weirdly beguiling. The album is nicely book-end by its opener Ivy Smith, on which Fairhall is accompanied by an unknown vaudeville blues singer (her Bessie Smith-like vocal hisses out of the gramophone while the melancholic walking blues staggers along drenching in bourbon and regret), and its closer Saw Dog Man, a Jimmy Yancey style Boogie Woogie number that uses a sample of some kind of Mississippi preacher’s drawl that covers the track with a fine layer of vintage dust. The rest of the album is peppered with some very dark Cecil Taylor influenced free improvisation, and it is on these tracks that Rodgers’ production style particularly shines through. On The Katy Line, and The Okeehumkee on the Oklawaha the listener is bombarded with a dense sound-world of throbbing loops, toys instruments and broken objects used for their musical potential.

While the likes of The Bad Plus and Brad Mehldau are looking towards the Top 40 for inspiration these days, on Second-Handed Blues Fairhall and Rodgers have dug deep into the archives of jazz to find their own fresh sound. In a way Fairhall is the archaeologist on this project and Rodgers his curator; one brushes away the layers of musical sediment to uncover long forgotten artefacts, while the other carefully reorganises them for re-examination and reinterpretation. The result is a thought-provoking display, rich with ideas.

Chris Ackerley


Review from International Piano Magazine, autumn 2011:

Adam Fairhall/Paul J. Rogers: Second-Handed Blues

Adam Fairhall (pf), Paul J Rogers (electronics, sound sculpture), Mike Hames (bass clarinet)

ASC 130 CD, 44 minutes

The debut album by this duo can be seen as a kind of archaeological exploration of blues piano and its place in the history of recorded sound.  The “compositions” credit could say something like “Jazz and blues compositions and improvisations by Adam Fairhall, with soundscapes and Americana recordings synthesised by Paul J Rogers”.  Each piece focusses on a distinct set of ideas or elements, pianistic and recorded.  The acousmatic backdrop of “Ivy Smith” is that blues singer’s 1920s vocal “Sad and Blue”, with Fairhall’s piano solo in more updated blues style, that is, post-bebop, in which Charlie Parker synthesised the blues with the harmonic influence of Tin Pan Alley standard songs.  The darkly powerful “Catfish” features Robert Petway’s delta blues guitar from his “Catfish Blues”.  “Saw Dog Man” is a pleasing synthesis of traditional and contemporary blues by Fairhall, over a treatment of “Old Rattler” by Mose Platt/James Baker and “Hammer Ring” by Jesse Bradley.  Some of the treatments are fairly radical, conceptual in fact – on the plangent “Piney Woods Motel”, for instance, blues by Margaret Johnson and Henry Truvillion are the sources for the sound sculpture, but no longer recognisable as voices.  I’m less sure about the treatment of Bukka White’s monologue “Mixed Water” on “Ballad of a Backslider”, where varying speeds and spatial disintegration distract from rather than enhance Fairhall’s haunting bluesy minimalism.  The pianist’s playing covers a multitude of bases – ragtime, boogie, bop and free jazz – while Paul J Rogers’ soundscapes and production concepts inhabit, if anything, an even broader stylistic range.  A haunting and intriguing set of performances.

Andy Hamilton