Tell us about how you first got into playing music.
“Initially as a young lad, I was influenced by many guitarists such as Hendrix, Angus Young, John Williams and more which got me interested in both rock and classical guitar. I played a bit in my early years but was into the 90's Rave scene dancing all night at Dreamscape, Helter Skelter etc. so didn't really look at the guitar seriously and jazz until the Noughties after being in Australia and jamming out there.”
You play a lot of music in different genres. What are the main styles that you play, and which are your favourites?
“Plenty of jazz from swing to bebop and beyond – performing solo guitar, duos and bands.”
“My main passion is Latin American music such as Brazilian choro, samba, Argentinean folklorico and more. I used to play flamenco including accompanying dancers but only dabble in this now.”
“I'm in my element performing classical guitar recitals in big beautiful churches such as All Saints in Hove. I've always loved classical guitar but having never studied, didn't understand it.”
“Since immersing myself in jazz and through that learning music theory, standards, chord melody and improvising; I look at a classical piece now and can see the chord progressions, voice movements and how it works. So much that I've learned from jazz, I now see in Bach pieces and love analysing and playing these. In fact, he improvised a lot. Maybe Bach was the the original jazzer?”
Who have been your main influences?
“For the path I'm on now, it has to be Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell de Aquino and amongst others, Yamandu Costa who is an outstanding and a very exciting performer. In the jazz field, my ultimate inspiration is Nelson Veras, a fingerstyle guitarist who is totally unique and is gaining more recognition. I also love Mike Stern's playing, so legato and stretchy. Paco de Lucia was also a huge influence, a true innovator and legend. Obviously all the jazz greats through the tradition as well.”
Tell us about the band, the Paul Richards Trio, and how it got started?
“I was guesting on a Heather Cairncross gig (amazing vocalist) when I first heard and met Steve Thompson and thought ‘Wow!’ – he really made the bass sing, the notes were popping out with beautiful clarity and phrasing. We started playing jazz gigs all over. Tony Shepherd was my tutor on a world music course and we played in a Latin outfit Auro quartet about 10 years ago. He's an outstanding drummer and fully rounded musician playing all genres from rock (he played keys in Oasis!) to world & jazz.”
“I was running weekly jazz nights at the Casino, Brighton Marina and one night I'd booked Steve and Tony. We played some of my Brazilian repertoire and we found that the particular combination of the three of us clicked and we all instantly thought ‘Aha! We should do something with this’.”
“I'd had many incarnations of line ups for my Latin stuff over the years, but Steve and Tony were so into it they suggested we should record together and commit to a project. I hadn't really thought about recording any albums up until that point but thanks to their enthusiastic encouragement and support, we now have two under our belt. I'm extremely fortunate to be working with them both.”
How would you describe the music that you play?
“Well it is actually quite genre spanning but still all hangs together well under the jazz / world music umbrella. We play Brazilian choros, samba, Argentinean folklorico, classical guitar pieces I arrange for trio plus some choice hard bop numbers and original compositions by myself and Steve. These are all played in our own unique way which I can't exactly describe. People will have to see us play live to experience it!”
I think the first time I saw you play with the band was at The Butter Market at the Rye Jazz Festival in 2013, with the town cryer standing outside. What other venues have you played?
“We play Rye Jazz Festival each year and go down a storm there with people dancing in the street. We've done two successful performances at Cheltenham Jazz Festival and will be returning to Love Supreme Festival this year. Our first album (Empatia) was launched at the Verdict Jazz Club and we'll be showcasing the new one (Episodes) there this month. We also play various venues around the South East.”
What sort of response have you received so far?
“People love it. The word on the street is that no one is doing stuff like this at the moment and it's unique and fresh.”
“The reaction this year at Cheltenham Jazz Festival was amazing and we sold stacks of CD's which is great to get your music out to a wider audience outside of Brighton. Positive reactions at these festivals really fuel your enthusiasm to keep the project going.”
“From my performance at Love Supreme, Jazzwise said ‘A gem on the stage. Paul Richards beautifully updates the Brazilian, nylon string guitar style’. We've had airplay around the UK with Chris Hodgkins saying ‘This album sounds like it was made for London Jazz Radio’.”
This is now your second album with the band. Tell us about the album.
“Episodes consists of the musical styles I've described. What makes it special is the interplay between the three of us. The music breathes, has varied dynamics with unexpected twists and arrangements. It's called Episodes as it represents the next episode in the trio's musical development and each tune is a particular episode in the musical language we draw upon where we constantly strive to blur the boundaries between classical and jazz and mix the old with the new, the improvised with the arranged and the robust with the delicate. We recorded it at The Retreat in Ovingdean. Chris Blakey captured the sound perfectly! You can find Episodes by Paul Richards Trio on iTunes, CD baby & Amazon.”
Where can we see you perform?
“We'll be launching the album Saturday 11th June at the Verdict Jazz Club, Brighton. Followed by Love Supreme Festival Sunday 3rd July and Rye in August. We're at Verdi, Royal Albert Hall 25th November plus other venues we keep updated on paulrichardsguitar.com.”
“Aside from the trio, I run the Brunswick Jazz Jam which has been going six years. It's still heaving every Tuesday with many brilliant performers on stage plus the occasional international star when they're passing through. Wednesday evenings you'll find me at the Independent Pub in Hanover, 8pm and the Craft Beer Co, Upper North St. on Sundays, 5.30pm. Each week I invite special guests to join me. My next Classical recital is Friday 1st July lunchtime at the Unitarian Church, Brighton. To see where you can catch me at other haunts across Sussex and London, please visit my website.”
What plans do you have for the future with the band?
“Record more albums, play up and down the country and abroad and have fun!”
The Paul Richards Trio launch their new album Episodes at The Verdict in Brighton on Saturday 11th June.