Friday, November 27, 2009

Sir Gwilym and the Gorgeous Freedom

Gwilym Simcock & The Voice Project, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London Jazz Festival, Saturday 21st November 2009

From the off this was a spine tingling performance. The opening quartet based track, 'Longing to Be', was a thing of beauty, its solo piano introduction creating a delicate and subtle balance of the best of contemporary jazz with touches of classical tonalities. The drumming from the continually surprising James Maddren was also quite phenomenal here.

Simcock then introduced the singers from the Norwich based Voice Project for the London premiere of 'I Prefer the Gorgeous Freedom', a full-length work for choir and jazz quartet, which premiered in May in Norwich as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. The second piece of this, 'Homeward Bound', was really something special, being inspired by a poem written by a Guantanamo Bay detainee. The track began with some free and fragmented playing abound with saxophone squeals conveying a real sense of foreboding. The track mutated through a number of moods, the sound containing an almost overwhelming wealth of riches. Following a kind of operatic section with some great singing from the soloists, the space opened out for another exquisite solo piano section of dark and profound beauty.

The third piece started with a distinctly celtic sounding whistle melody, expertly played by reeds player Klaus Gesing, accompanying a vulnerable single voice part. When the piano joined in, the familiar melody was set against some classic jazz harmony to shift the context, giving the line a very different mood. It was moving stuff that produced some genuine tears from this listener.

A straight soul snare drum backed a slow steady drone from double bass player Yuri Goloubev and Simcock to open the concluding piece. A mighty storm was kicked up, with some great liquid improvising from Gesing, perfectly enhanced by the interplay from Maddren and Goloubev. Simcock was also at his fearsome best with a blistering fast note attack leaving the audience breathless. A really top concert. Chick Corea describes Simcock as a "creative genius". Who am I to disagree?


Ade said...

Wow, sounds fantastic.

I saw him play with John Taylor in a duet in London a few years ago. An impressively talented chap!

Ade said...

Hi Ade. Yep it was great and indeed he is v talented. He played here in Manchester at the RNCM last night as well. Hopefully will review that soonish. I still haven't seen John Taylor which is quite an oversight, so I'm a little envious. His "Ambleside Days' is very popular with the Manchester jazz fraternity. Cheers, Ade