“This feels like the start of something special… Let’s hope it becomes more than a one-tour stand.”
That’s what I wrote in May 2010 about a band that didn’t have a proper name at that point, and I’m pleased to report that my feelings were correct and my hopes were realised.
Then it was called the Gwilym Simcock Quartet, now it’s The Impossible Gentlemen, and after one of the finest CDs released in 2011 the band is now on tour once more and playing two gigs in the Midlands this week.
The quartet features pianist Gwilym Simcock and guitarist Mike Walker from the UK with electric bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Adam Nussbaum, all great players and, Nussbaum aside, bandleaders in their own right.
But what has made The Impossible Gentlemen even better when I have seen them play live and heard them on CD is that this is not just four great musicians playing together but a really cohesive band with a great sense of communal joy in being together.
The front line of two chordal instruments is not an easy one to manage – some great names in jazz have stumbled at that particular challenge – but the Gentlemen sail through it with Walker (a great relatively unsung hero of jazz guitar) and Simcock having found a way of working around and interlocking with each other that is truly inspiring.
I’m hoping that we’ll hear a few of the songs from the album and that earlier tour – Walker’s Clockmaker and Simock’s Gwil’s Song are both stand-outs – as well as some new material. And a new tour does suggest a potential second album in the making.
The Impossible Gentlemen play a Jazzlines gig at the CBSO Centre in Birmingham on Saturday and a Jazz At The Edge gig at The Edge Arts Centre in Much Wenlock on Sunday.
Sadly this could be the last jazz gig of this calibre at The Edge, as the centre’s director Alison Vermee has left, and she was the driving force behind the series which had secured some Jazz Services support in the summer. Alison has moved to the Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton so we will hold thumbs and await possible news of some jazz there in the future.
If you fancy your jazz mixed in with a little flamenco and all served up with a thoroughly contemporary twist on the gipsy flavour, then the mac is the place to be tomorrow evening when TG Collective take the stage to celebrate their latest CD release, Release The Penguins.
The band centres around Spanish guitar virtuosi Sam Slater and Jamie Fekete, but has expanded both in instrumentation and in musical scope since their early days as two thirds of Trio Gitano.
The album is lovely stuff, full of southern European warmth, and the band’s performances are renowned for their uplifting nature. Sounds just perfect for a late November evening in the middle of England.
Tickets and more information are available at www.macarts.co.uk.
A Friday evening alternative for fans of the jazz orchestra will be the chance to hear New York baritone saxophone master Gary Smulyan with the Birmingham Conservatoire Jazz Orchestra in the Conservatoire’s Recital Hall.
Gary, who is a member of the legendary Vanguard Jazz Orchestra (it plays at the famous Greenwich Village club every Monday night) has been working with the Birmingham students and this is their chance to show what he’s taught them.
More information at www.bcu.ac.uk and go to the events calendar.