Richard DurrantRichard Durrant
Album: The Girl At The Airport
Label: Longman Records
Tracks: 12

Anyone familiar with the Jo Good show on BBC Radio London will no doubt already be familiar with Richard Durrant. Joanne Good used to live in Brighton at one time, and as Richard comes from there, he has been a guest on her radio show a few times.

If you haven't heard of him before, he is an amazing concert guitarist with a technique that makes Jo Good say that he sounds as if there are several musicians playing rather than just one man. Of course, on record that effect doesn't come across, because you can't tell whether there actually are several musicians playing. However, that is no reason not to buy any of his records. His music is exquisitely beatiful.

On paper, The Girl At The Airport shouldn't work. For a start, it is the third album in a trilogy. If you've not heard the first two albums in the series, how are you suppossed to understand the trilogy? Secondly, the album is described as an album with a story, telling a "Graham Greene tinged tale". Yet all the tracks on the album are instrumental! How can you convey a Graham Greene tinged tale witout lyrics?

And yet somehow, listening to The Girl At The Airport, it all seems to make sense.

Yes, this is the third album in Richard's Paraguay trilogy, but being instrumentals, the albums all stand in their own right, without need to refer back to an earlier volume. And yes, the Paraguayan feel to the music is evocative of a South American novel, but possibly I haven't listened to it quite enough yet to completely visualise "The Honorary Consul", though the title of one track "Our Man In Asuncion" obviously pays homage to a different Greene novel.

Almost all of the instruments on this album, including various guitars, ukeleles, bass and keys are played by Richard, apart from a cajon and a shaker played by Tom Arnold. Oh, and apart from the City of Prague Phiharmonic Orchestra Strings, who accompany Richard on the absolutely breath taking title track.

As a boy, Richard would catch the number 26 bus to his guitar lessons in Brighton. One Christmas, his parents gave him an album of Paraguayan guitar music which fired his imagination, so many years later, when he was invited to tour Paraguay he felt that the number 26 bus had led him there, hence the title of the first album in this trilogy: The Number 26 Bus to Paraguay. The second "Hijo de Hombre" means "Son of Man". The third, "The Girl At The Airport", is named after Shoreham Airport where Richard began his first trip to Paraguay.

Most of the tracks on this album were written by Durrant, or by musician friends he met on his trip to Paraguay, apart from the final track, which is one we all know - "El Condor Pasa" made famous by Simon and Garfunkel, and the first track, "Jha Che Vaile" which was written by Agustin Barrios Mangore, a famous Paraguayan guitarist. They are all beautiful and although I don't think I'm inspired to visit Paraguay as a result, I am inspired to buy the rest of the trilogy..

Just after recording The Girl At The Airport, an airshow was held at Shoreham airport in which a Hawker Hunter crashed on the main A27 road killing 11 people. As a result, the character of the airport has changed. It is no longer the gateway to adventure, but the site of a tragedy. The Graham Greene novel continues outside of the confines of the trilogy. There's a dedication on the album to the memory of all those who lost their lives during the airshow crash.

Pete Bradley

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