"the quartet, fulfilled all its promise - and then some. Walker's contribution to this ensemble was nothing short of sensational, through plenty of quiet, but compellingly lyrical music, as well as some post-bop gallops and a spectacular roaring blues. Simcock set the improv bar early on with a surging, McCoy Tyner-like solo on his own convoluted-bop theme, and Walker's fast Laugh Lines revealed his rare balance of meticulousness, spontaneity, storytelling and tonal bite as a soloist." —The Guardian UK
Gwilym Simcock dazzles with Anglo-American supergroup." —Jazzwise Magazine
The Anglo-American jazz supergroup," The Impossible Gentlemen features internationally acclaimed British piano sensation Gwilym Simcock
. The result is nothing less than remarkable with four unique talents, all superb players in their own right, coming together to create something new and powerful. The band was born when Walker, having played in a project Ropes" with Adam Nussbaum at the Manchester Jazz Festival in 2009 came up with the idea of putting this band together. The longstanding partnership of Nussbaum and Swallow goes back nearly 30 years and with a rhythm section this robust and intuitive the only unknown for Walker was Simcock. Despite both hailing from Manchester, Simcock had moved to London to pursue his studies and subsequent career without the musical opportunity to work with Walker. Given their musical interests it was inevitable that they would get together at some point and the opportunity Walker presented was too tempting for Simcock to pass up. Critics and audiences alike raved about the band's mini-tour last spring. Here then is the result of that inspired meeting, a debut recording and a further twelve date UK tour in June.
For Walker, the strength of The Impossible Gentlemen is in the individuality of the players. Each musician's distinctive voice is paired with an openness that allows them to put the music first and encourages the improvisers to express themselves. In Walker's memorable phrase 'They have deep pockets. They improvise. They put the music first", while Simcock notes that the other three guys have such strong identities as musicians as well as people.... they stamp their 'sound' on the music, and I feel that that comes across every second of the music they make!".
The Impossible Gentlemen opens with three Mike Walker compositions including the challenging, fast-moving Laugh Lines, a piece that perfectly captures Walker's penchant for free-flowing music full of odd time signatures and unusual forms but which nonetheless offer the perfect launch pad for some superlative playing from all the quartet. Indeed the interplay throughout the album is of the highest order, passionate and unforced, but always riveting, as in the luminous Walker tune Clockmaker and the graceful Wallenda's Last Stand (dedicated to the great German- American tightrope walker). Elsewhere the band explore three Gwilym Simcock compositions including You Won't Be Around To See It, a tongue in cheek reworking of Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise, which Nussbaum drags to unexpected places with his drive and intelligence. The gentle, beautiful Gwil's Song features fine solos from Swallow and Walker and Play The Game is driven by Nussbaum's powerful drumming and features a burning solo from Walker. Here, as elsewhere, the mutual trust between the musicians is omnipresent. This trust allows the whole band and the individuals to shine, resulting in some of the most profound, luminous, listening jazz to be cut on either side of the Atlantic this year. Indeed, to give the last word to Walker: The guys don't do things by halves. They go for it."