Gwilym Simcock – Debussy’s Children’s Corner Suite (2018)

FrontCover1.jpgGwilym Simcock has carved out a career as one of the most gifted pianists and imaginative composers on the European scene. The Briton moves effortlessly between jazz and classical music, with a ‘harmonic sophistication and subtle dovetailing of musical traditions’. Gwilym has been hailed as a pianist of ‘exceptional’, ‘brilliant’ and ‘dazzling’ ability, and his music has been widely acclaimed as ‘engaging, exciting, often unexpected, melodically enthralling, complex yet hugely accessible’, and above all ‘wonderfully optimistic’.

Gwilym’s influences are wide ranging, from jazz legends including Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and Jaco Pastorius, to classical composers including Maurice Ravel, Henri Dutilleux, Béla Bartók and Mark-Anthony Turnage. In 2017, Gwilym toured with Pat Metheny, Linda Oh and Antonio Sanchez promoting Metheny’s Real Book album. Although principally a jazz artist, Gwilym has composed numerous works for larger Classical ensemble that combine through-composed elements with improvisation, creating a sound that is distinctive and very much his own.

Julian Joseph presents Gwilym Simcock’s jazz influenced version of Debussy’s Children’s Corner Suite specially arranged for piano, saxophone and string quartet:

Children’s Corner, L. 119, is a 6-movement suite for solo piano by Claude Debussy. It was published by Durand in 1908, and was first performed by Harold Bauer in Paris on 18 December that year. In 1911, an orchestration by André Caplet was premiered and subsequently published. A typical performance of the suite lasts roughly 15 minutes.

claudedebussy1

Debussy composed Children’s Corner between 1906 and 1908. He dedicated the suite to his daughter, Claude-Emma (known as “Chou-Chou”), who was born on 30 October 1905 in Paris. She is described as a lively and friendly child who was adored by her father. She was three years old when he dedicated the suite to her in 1908. The dedication reads: “A ma chère petite Chouchou, avec les tendres excuses de son Père pour ce qui va suivre. C. D.” (To my dear little Chouchou, with tender apologies from her father for what follows).

The suite was published by Durand in 1908, and was given its world première in Paris by Harold Bauer on 18 December that year. In 1911, an orchestration of the work by Debussy’s friend André Caplet received its premiere, and was subsequently published. A typical performance of the suite lasts roughly 15 minutes. (by wikipedia)

Another little masterpiece of Gwilym Simcock !

Recorded live at the BBC Studios, Salford, UK;
March 24, 2018. Very good BBC Radio 3 “Jazz Line-Up” broadcast

SimcokJoseph.jpg

Personnel:
Rob Buckland (saxophone)
Francesca Gilbert (viola)
Lucy McKay (violin)
Rachel Shakespeare (cello)
Gwilym Simcock (piano)
Simmy Singh (violin)

BackCover1.jpg
Tracklist:
01. Intro 8.45

Children’s Corner Suite:
02. Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum 4.23
03. Jimbo’s Lullaby 5.29
04. Talk 7.25
05. Serenade For The Doll 4.24
06. The Snow is Dancing 5.13
07. Talk 3.02
08. The Little Shepherd/Golliwog’s Cakewalk 13.56
09. Talk 1.19

10. Deux Conversations avec Monsieur Croche Pt 1 5.31
11. Deux Conversations avec Monsieur Croche Pt 2 6.46

Music composed by Claude Debussy & Gwilym Simcock

Gwilym Simcock1.jpg

*
**

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)

Simcock01

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)

Simcock02

Personnel:
Gwilym Simcock (piano)

BackCover

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)

*
**

Elmau2

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”).

Corea

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.

Booklet04A

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)

Booklet03A

 

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)

Booklet02A

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

CD

*
**

BookletPic01

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)

Gwylim Simcock
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 !

TheImpossibleGentlemen01

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

*
**

Iain Dixon