Perception may have been a long time coming, but it’s a gem of a debut.
Kathryn Shackleton 2007
When 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”).
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.
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.