CD Review: The Impossible Gentlemen – The Impossible Gentlemen

The Impossible Gentlemen – The Impossible Gentlemen
(Basho Records SRCD 36-2. CD Review by Chris Parker)

Born from a 2009 collaboration between Manchester-based guitarist Mike Walker and US drummer Adam Nussbaum, this US/UK ‘supergroup’ is completed by Nussbaum’s longtime rhythm-section partner, bassist Steve Swallow, and UK pianist Gwilym Simcock.

As a band, playing compositions provided mainly by Walker and Simcock (though Nussbaum provides a slinky closer, ‘Sure Would Baby’), they produce music that not only reflects the peerless skills of the individual participants, but also gels in a manner that results only when that mysterious process, ‘bonding’, has taken place.

Walker, of course, has been that somewhat oxymoronic phenomenon, a ‘well-kept secret’, in UK jazz circles for a couple of decades, and his supremely accomplished playing, drawing on his extraordinary knack of selecting precisely the right guitar texture and timbre for each piece, his resourcefulness, power and feeling, lights up this album from start (a joyous hurtle, ‘Laugh Lines’, ornamented by swiftly swapped solos from Simcock, Walker and Swallow) to finish (the aforementioned Nussbaum composition).

Simcock, too, is excellent in both accompanying and mellifluous but vigorous soloing roles, and with Swallow simply his flawless self throughout – delicately insistent in his meshing with the dexterous Nussbaum, deft and eloquent in his solos – this is a classy, elegant but punchily accessible album, and a great appetiser not only for their forthcoming June UK tour, but also their London Jazz Festival appearance in November.

The Impossible Gentlemen’s CD is released on June 6th. For tour dates impossiblegentlemen.com

Categories: miscellaneous

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