Christine Allen writes about contemporary dancer and performer Nigel Charnock, who died last week
Nigel Charnock passed away on 1st August at the very young age of 52 after a short battle with cancer. Nigel was not someone I knew much about until he contacted me to find out if he could work with Gwilym Simcock on an improvised dance project. Both performers are brilliant improvisers, and Nigel had always dreamt of working with a great jazz musician at some stage. Gwilym accepted the challenge with his usual enthusiasm and the result was two performances at the Purcell Room at the South Bank at the 2010 London Jazz Festival.
Right from the off the audience were enthralled at Nigel’s brilliance and his humour. Not only was Nigel an incredible dancer, he bubbled with ideas, with wit and with an extraordinary ability to communicate to an audience. At times I felt Gwilym found it hard to contain his laughter as Nigel moved around the piano, the under the piano, then onto the piano stool, around the stage and into the audience, even up the ladder into the sound booth. Nowhere was out of bounds for him. He made the music come alive in a way that led me to tell Gwilym after the show that I would never be able to listen to his music again without thinking of Nigel.
The last time I saw Nigel was earlier this year when he had cycled in icy conditions from south London to the 606 in Chelsea to see Gwilym play. He came to many gigs and always looked forward to working together again. We all had plans to develop another project, but sadly it was not to be. We will miss you.
I was mesmerised by Nigel's impro based on Keith Jarret's Koln Concert. Asking him why he didn't work with a live player, he simply said “Find me one”. So I mentioned Gwilym Simcock, who he hadn't heard of, and mailed him details.
I couldn't make the LJF gig in 2010, much to my regret then and even more now. But thanks for the glimpse of what happened.
It looked electric.
Richard, I did not know it was you who hooked Gwilym and Nigel up. Many thanks for the suggestion. It was a great experience for them both. Nigel came to many of Gwilym's gigs after that and they really became very good friends. It is so very sad that such a brilliant talent has been taken from us as such a young age.