Gwilym Simcock Quintet

16 May 2006

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Gwilym Simcock Gwilym Simcock (piano)
Stan Sulzmann (saxes)
John Parricelli (guitars)
Phil Donkin (double bass)
Martin France (drums)

The opening pieces of Gwilym Simcock’s performance required careful listening as reflective solo exploratory passages were intricately interwoven with ensemble playing where tempo was always changing. It was clear that we had five fine musicians before us but there were hints that we might be in for an evening of highly proficient but rather cerebral and technical jazz.

This notion was dispelled as they moved into Charlie Mingus’s Nostalgia in Times Square, a twelve bar blues in 5/4 which allowed the musicians to let rip with a little more abandon. They ended the first set with what Simcock described as a ‘country tune? It had some remarkable features for a jazz piece. The melody had little variation from the major scale and lengthy sections were based around four simple major chords. It was a measure of Simcock’s inventiveness that he played these four chords with seemingly inexhaustible rhythmic variations behind a soaring solo from Stan Sulzmann on Soprano sax.

This mix of complexity and simplicity marked the evening. Martin France’s drumming was unfussy but always busy always varied. Phil Donkin played a couple of wonderfully supple and melodic bass solos but spent most of the evening providing a very solid foundation. The understanding between Simcock and his rhythm section was precise, and good enough to allow dialogue between drums, bass and piano. Perhaps the fact that they are working towards a recording of these numbers has helped that. Simcock’s own playing is extraordinarily diverse. He will play left hand melody and right hand chords. One solo started Latin, went briefly through Bach before arriving at more characteristic jazz phrases.

There were times in the second set where all but the devotees of the avant garde will have been puzzled, but the final number left us wanting more. Here Simcock’s composition gave Sulzmann a catchy bebop line on tenor while John Parricelli, whose electric guitar had ranged over many styles, had a more rock fusion feel. There were several times in the evening when guitar and sax seemed to be singing together with remarkable accord. Here they were taking different paths but the result was a vibrant finish to an impressive concert. (Graham Banks)

For more information on the musicians go to

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