Gwilym Simcock – Good Days At Schloss Elmau (2011)

FrontCover1When Chick Corea calls you a creative genius, you know you’re on to something. Praise like this is nothing new to UK piano whiz kid Gwilym Simcock, though.

So, here´another album by a master of contemporary  jazz piano:

You have to worry about a man who entitles one of his pieces Can We Still Be Friends? It threatens a gloopiness which this album does sometimes deliver. But when Simcock stops mooning and becomes energised the results can be terrific. He’s a formidable musician as well as a formidable pianist, with a feeling for the way harmony can create architecture as well as momentary colours – a rare gift. (by Ivan Hewett)

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Unaccompanied piano performance is a challenge 30-year-old Gwilym Simcock hasn’t confronted since his childhood classical training, and one that’s all the greater because it invites comparison with a significant personal influence: Keith Jarrett. But this highly varied set is more explicitly classical in its harmonic mobility and melodic flourishes and more elaborately composed than Jarrett’s jazz work. Simcock can play so many things at once, while often developing pieces through progressions of modulations and changing motifs that a few listenings are required to tease it out. If this all-original and mostly first-take set has any drawbacks, they come from occasional over-elaboration and the odd hint of sugariness. But it’s mostly an awesome solo debut. The chord-rammed blizzard of sound on Wake Up Call borders on free music, Northern Song recalls Django Bates’s melodies and the bluesy, sublimely paced and faintly Mehldauesque Gripper is surely one of the great contemporary jazz piano performances. (by John Fordham)

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Personnel:
Gwilym Simcock (piano)

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Tracklist:
01. These Are The Good Days 6.06
02.  Mezzotint 6.37
03. Gripper 6.35
04.  Plain Song 5.49
05. Northern Smiles 5.44
06. Can We Still Be Friends? 12.17
07. Wake Up Call 5.27
08. Elmau Tage 9.28

Music composed by Gwilym Simcock

Elmau

Schloss Elmau (Gemany)

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Gwilym Simcock – Perception (2007)

FrontCover1When Chick Corea calls you a creative genius, you know you’re on to something. Praise like this is nothing new to UK piano whiz kid Gwilym Simcock, though. He’s won more prizes than he’s had hot dinners, but on this long-overdue first album he leaves room for his band to shine too.

Odd time signatures and rhythmic surprises are trademarks of Gwilym’s up-tempo pieces on Perception – inspiration he’s got from playing with Bill Bruford. Melodic lines fall over each other in “Sneaky” and rhythms criss-cross in “A Typical Affair”. Martin France’s stunning drumming ignites the fast passages on the album, and the pitter-patter of his percussion complements Gwilym’s impassioned playing, while John Parricelli’s guitar can be rocky-electric (on “Sneaky”), or warm and classical-sounding (on “Time and Tide”).

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On Gwilym’s slower tunes, like “And Then She Was Gone”, he becomes meditative and spacious. From a one-finger intro, thick layers of piano, bass, and drums build up, giving Stan Sulzmann’s sax just the canvas it needs to expand and soar. In “Affinity”, delicate, dexterous piano lines and chattering drums link in lacy patterns around a Latin feel, held together by melodic sax and Phil Donkin’s fine, singing bass.

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Gwilym was classically trained before becoming besotted by jazz, and it’s obvious in his solo pieces. His touch makes music into raindrops in “Voices”, as notes start on their separate journeys, jostle together, and order themselves into a quiet resolution. A live recording of “My One and Only Love” opens like a Beethoven sonata, the beautiful melody floating on effortless ripples of notes.

This album’s an ideal showcase for Gwilym Simcock. He plays solo, leads a trio and a five-piece, plays his own compositions and throws in a couple of imaginatively interpreted standards. Perception may have been a long time coming, but it’s a gem of a debut. (by Kathryn Shackleton , BBC)

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Personnel:
Ben Bryant (percussion)
Phil Donkin (bass)
Martin France (drums)
John Parricelli (guitar)
Gwilym Simcock (piano)
Stan Sulzmann (saxophone)
Written-By – Gwilym Simcock (tracks: 1 to 8)

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Tracklist:
01. A Typical Affair (Simcock) 8.16
02 Sneaky (Simcock) 6:13
03 And Then She Was Gone (Simcock) 5:56
04 Time And Tide (Simcock) 9:29
05 Almost Moment (Simcock) 3:55
06 Voices (Simcock) 3:12
07 Affinity (Simcock) 6:53
08 Message (Simcock) 8:00
09. The Way You Look Tonight (Fields/Kern) 8.26
10. My One And Only Love (live) (Wood/Mellin) 8.28

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Reviews

The Impossible Gentlemen – Live At The Funkhaus Studio (Munich/Germany) (2016)

FrontCover1This Anglo-American supergroup could be seen as a canny way of raising the international profile of two of Britain’s most inventive jazz musicians.

These gentlemen first assembled in 2009, with pianist Gwilym Simcock and guitarist Mike Walker backed by flashy US drummer Adam Nussbaum and veteran bass legend Steve Swallow. The latter has now been replaced by another American, Steve Rodby, and the lineup has been expanded to feature Iain Dixon, who multitasks on reeds and synth. But the focus remains on the guitar/piano pairing of Simcock and Walker.

The two write most of the material, which often suffers from the curse of so much contemporary jazz in that it is overwritten, packed with tricksy chord changes and byzantine, unnavigable melodies. Where this is sometimes a problem on record, it becomes less of an issue tonight, as so many songs become vehicles for melodic and textural improvisation. (by www.theguardian.com)

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And here´s a superb and excellent FM broadcast recording … The Impossible Gentlemen on tour through Germany to promote their third album called “Let’s Get Deluxe” from 2016.

A guitar and piano frontline is not the easiest line-up to manage. Those of us who saw the Pat Metheny/Brad Mehldau band in Symphony Hall a few years ago will know that even for two musicians of such standing, it is by no means plain sailing. There are icebergs lurking dangerously out there. Pat and Brad could learn a lot from Gwil and Mike. They never got in each other’s way, neither did they inhibit each others’ natural style.

And, in a world where some jazz musicians can still be a little too cool, what a joy to be witness to the clear warmth and mutual respect of all the musicians on the stage. (by thejazzbreakfast.com)

That´s what I call a supergroup !

In other words: Let´s hear Jazz deluxe !

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Personnel:
Iain Dixon (saxophone, keyboards)
Adam Nussbaum (drums)
Steve Rodby (bass)
Gwylim Simcock (keyboards)
Mike Walker (guitar)

Mike Walker
Tracklist:
01. Let´s Get Deluxe (Simcock/Walker) 5.52
02. You Won´t Be Around To See It (Simcock) 9.28
03. Announcement by Gwylim Simcock 0.26
04. It Could Have Been A Simple Goodbye (Simcock/Walker) 10.37
05. Clockmaker (Walker) 9.50
06. Dogtime (Simcock/Walker) 10.07

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Iain Dixon