Gwilym Simcock Blues Vignette Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

More time and less hype would serve Simcock’s cause well.

Kevin Le Gendre 2009

A double CD which places the artist in trio, duo and solo contexts is an ambitious undertaking for a 28-year-old, still a callow youth in jazz terms. But pianist Gwilym Simcock has displayed sufficient ambition and talent to make this less of a surprise since striding onto the UK scene a few years ago.

A largely applauded debut, 2007’s Perception, as well as high profile gigs with such luminaries as Kenny Wheeler and Tim Garland have placed him in the ascendant and this new release will hardly derail his progress. Simcock’s growth as a composer comes through in the course of the programme and peaks on the title track, a trio piece that has a deftly skilful evolution from its eerie prelude. A tick-tock of mildly dissonant chords gives way to a more propulsive and wily rhythmic carriage that then slows to a sensual blues drag before reprising its up-tempo surge. Bassist Yuri Goloubev brings much authority to dot-dash lines while drummer James Maddren shows impressive focus too; his snare work, in particular, has a lightness of touch and dynamism that entirely serve the fleet of foot character of Simcock’s themes.

Generally speaking, the music, marked by strong leanings to the classical world, takes its cue from the kind of noble, cultured post-bop marshalled so well by the likes of Kenny Barron and John Taylor, and Simcock handles the vocabulary well. But there is still a timidity in the use of his left hand which occasionally reduces the impact of some of his more ornate statements, all of which are impressively crafted but need more bedrock beneath them. They fall a touch flat because the bass is caressing too gently rather than pushing the music up with a real bold sense of intent. With his upper register sparkling so much this isn’t a huge failing, but if it were addressed then the results could be very strong.

Simcock possibly needs the right producer, an experienced, sagacious elder who can coach him to good effect. Then again more time and less hype would also serve his cause well.

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