publicity photo courtesy Basho Music
Peter Bacon previews a welcome solo visit to the Midlands by Gwilym Simcock.
The British pianist Gwilym Simcock spent a considerable part of last year touring the world’s concert halls and jazz clubs as part of Pat Metheny’s quartet, a role he will return to this autumn with a substantial European tour in addition to concerts in the U.S.
Included in the dates for An Evening With Pat Metheny is one at Warwick Arts Centre in Coventry on 9 November. But Midland Simcock fans have an earlier chance to hear the man in the same county – and undiluted, as it were. He is playing a solo piano concert as part of the 2017 Kenilworth Arts Festival later this month.
Simcock may have an international touring life these days but he has always remained loyal to the little guys in regional arts festivals who were quick to recognise his talents early on – promoters like the Machynllech Festival where he has returned regularly, and Lichfield Festival where he was artist-in-residence way back in 2005.
He tends to play mostly his own compositions in solo recitals these days, but he also likes to include his interpretations of jazz standards and perhaps even something classical. His sole solo recording, Good Days At Schloss Elmau (ACT), was a Barclaycard Mercury Album of the Year in 2011.
Of his Midland solo visit, Kenilworth Jazz Club co-ordinator David Logan explained:
“Kenilworth Arts Festival is a general festival for the arts and new chairman Lewis Smith has really pushed for a more rounded festival covering a range of different art forms. I have been involved because I run Kenilworth Jazz Club, where we run nine jazz gigs a year. Our own gigs can help promote the larger jazz events that take place during the festival.”
Simcock is not the first celebrated jazz pianist Kenilworth has welcomed since the Jazz Club has upped its game in recent years. Jason Rebello played at Kenilworth castle last year. And David has an equally atmpospheric venue lined up for Simcock.
“Gwilym Simcock will be performing a solo concert in St. John’s Church. It’s a typical, Victorian parish church but the interior has been thoroughly modernised. The pews have been replaced with seats and there is appropriate lighting and underfloor heating. It’s lovely.
“I liked the idea of doing another solo piano event, as I think these suit the spaces really well. The cafeteria at the castle, where Jason Rebello played, is as old as the castle itself and the setting of the church will also be ideal for Gwilym playing solo. We have hired in a great piano from Yamaha.”
The festival is a fabulous opportunity to hear Gwilym Simcock play solo in a beautiful setting. Also appearing as part of the week-long festival will be novelists Sarah Moss and Kit De Waal, gardener and journalist Alys Fowler, and folk-rock band The Treetop Flyers.
Gwilym Simcock plays solo at St John’s Church, Kenilworth, at 7.45pm on Thursday 21 September.