The young British pianist Gwilym Simcock returns to the cultural retreat in the Bavarian Alps where he recorded his Mercury-nominated solo album, Good Days…, and this time he has Russian double bassist Yuri Goloubev with him.
The men share similar backgrounds, being classically trained virtuosi before following the jazz path, and their musical empathy – Goloubev is the bassist in Simcock’s piano trio so they have spent some time on the road together – is a joy to hear.
The music, all original and composed by one or the other with the exception of the final track which is an adaptation of a Reverie by the 19th-century Italian composer and virtuoso bassist Giovanni Bottesini, fully explores these overlapping musical traditions (one Goloubev tune is called Non-Schumann Lied), being quite formal and through-composed in places, while always having that lithe flexibility and rhythmic freedom which improvising musicians have.
Antics builds with an driving momentum, while A Joy Forever is exquisitely delicate with Goloubev showing his peerless arco playing.
Simcock tended, like a lot of young pianists, to err on the side of, in Lee Konitz’s words, “too many notes” when he first started out. He can still fit a lot of them in, though it never feels now as if any are extraneous. There is such generosity in the rich harmonic and melodic material he weaves for us.
Goloubev, likewise, can pack in whole handfuls of notes when he wants to, but he also wastes none.
If there were a knife edge between jazz and classical music, then this whole album dances upon it like a high wire act of immeasurable daring. But, of course, it’s more like a rich shared, overlapping land of high peaks and deep valleys, and Simcock and Goloubev, like Andrew Graham-Dixon and Giorgio Locatelli in their just finished TV series Italy Unpacked, are our magnanimous and adventurous guides.
To buy Gwilym Simcock and Yuri Goloubev’s Reverie At Schloss Elmau, go here
Categories: CD review