Gwilym Simcock ‘Instrumation’ (ACT) 4/5

Layout 1One of the UK’s finest jazz musicians and a prime contender for the most gifted of the pianists among his generation, Gwilym Simcock has rapidly established an international reputation and his association with the ACT label has been a major factor in reaching out to a wider audience. A rapid series of releases has seen him heard in contrasting contexts, and an earlier ACT album this year featured a terrific duet recording with the equally talented Russian musician, bassist Yuri Goloubev. This new album divides equally up into two parts with Goloubev and drummer Martin France comprising the second part in a quartet format that includes cello, while the first part is an ambitious orchestral project that has Simcock accompanied by the City of London Sinfonia and will appeal to those who appreciate larger ensemble compositions. The five part suite was written in the spring of 2011 with the Sinfonia in mind and two of these were previewed in London in January. One of these, ‘Simple Tales’, was originally commissioned for a classical piano trio that Simcock wanted to augment with bass and drums. However, the piece has now been reworked to fit the new quartet and jazz fans in particular will find more of interest in this section of the album which combines both jazz and classical elements with fine interplay between Goloubev and Simcock on the outwardly reflective ‘Ouverture’ and in general some delightful piano work that recalls Chick Corea from his Latin-influenced period of the early-mid 1970s. Some of the pieces in fact reflect various aspects of his family’s life with ‘Dance! (for Ann)’ devoted to his mother while the evocative sounding ‘M. Bricolage (French for handyman) was inspired by French builders’ merchants. This album, in which all the music has been composed by Simcock, is typically inventive from a truly original musical mind and one who is fully capable of operating in a variety of settings as this set most admirably demonstrates.

Tim Stenhouse