Ric Sanders may be one of England's most versatile fiddlers. While his prime focus, since the mid-'80s, has been the British folk-rock that he plays with Fairport Convention, Sanders has proven equally effective at a diverse range of musical genres. He played experimental rock with Stomu Yamash'ta and the Red Buddah Theater and Soft Machine, traditional folk with the Albion Band, and jazz with a trio that he shared with vocalist Vikki Clayton and drummer Fred Thelonious Baker. A self-taught fiddler, Sanders was initially inspired by the music of jazz-fusion pioneers including John McLaughlin, Miles Davis, Chick Corea, and Josef Zawinul. His fiddling was further influenced by the playing of such jazz fiddlers as Jean-Luc Ponty, Stephane Grappelli, Stuff Smith, and Joe Venuti.
After making his professional debut as a member of Stomu Yamash'ta and the Red Buddah Theater in 1973, Sanders continued to explore the outer realms of progressive rock with Soft Machine. His fiddling was featured on the band's 1978 album, Alive and Well, recorded during a concert in Paris. With his reputation secure, Sanders began to step into the spotlight with his early-'80s group, Second Vision, featuring guitarist John Ethridge, keyboardist Dave Bristow, and drummer Mickey Baker. The group's sole album, First Steps, was released in 1980. Sanders and Ethridge continued to play together in the John Ethridge/Ric Sanders Band.
Opening his own recording studio, Morgreen Studios, in 1981, Sanders mostly recorded folk albums by such artists as Martin Simpson and June Tabor. His interests in British folk music were strengthened during a stint with Ashley Hutching's Albion Band, a group that also included several musicians who had played with Fairport Convention. When it was decided that Fairport Convention was going to reunite to record an instrumental album, Glady's Leap, in 1985, Sanders received a phone call from bassist/vocalist Dave Pegg asking if he'd be interested in playing on the recording. Sanders quickly accepted the invitation.
15 years later, he remains an essential part of Fairport's evolving sound. Sanders has continued to branch out as a musician. In addition to recording two solo albums -- Whenever in 1984 and Neither Time Nor Distance in 1991 -- he joined with Clayton and Baker to record a live trio album, Carried Away (Speaking Volumes), in 1995. ~ Craig Harris