The second day of this year’s Two-Steinway Festival at PizzaExpress Dean Street, Sunday 19 March, consists of two concerts by the duo of Julian Joseph and Gwilym Simcock, at 1pm and then another at 8pm…. Gwilym Simcock is looking forward to it... Interview by Gabriel Taylor.
LondonJazz News: What’s your history with Julian?
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Gwilym Simcock: It’s a funny thing for me because the first jazz gig I ever went to was with Julian Joseph and his trio, up in Manchester at the Royal Northern College of Music. I must have been about 14 because I was training as a classical musician at Chetham’s School of Music and started getting into jazz around that time, and that was obviously an exciting moment in life to discover a new direction in music. I distinctly remember going to that concert – it was a fascinating experience to see musicians working together in the way that we do in our world, which of course is very different from going to see a pianist play Beethoven, or a string quartet. I’ve always felt an affinity to Julian because I suppose moments in your life like that stick out, don’t they?
LJN: Have you played together before?
GS: We’ve crossed paths so many times over the last 20 years, mainly through his radio work, and we’ve always had a really good time but never actually played together because he would be presenting for the programme, and I would be performing. As pianists we’re often ships that pass in the night – you’re don’t really get to play with each other, and certainly not in a situation where there’s two nice pianos and a lovely environment like there is at Pizza Express. I’ve been lucky enough to present a number of these duos there over the years with people from all over the world, but it just occurred to me that it would be a great opportunity to play with Julian, especially as he’s not someone you can often see performing due to his many other commitments.
LJN: What do you like about Julian’s playing?
GS: Well, he’s just a wonderful musician – he’s got such a wonderful line to the heritage of the music and a lovely touch on the instrument, and a great clarity about everything that he plays. We’ve exchanged some music over this last week and I’m really looking forward to seeing how things develop with the repertoire that we’ve chosen.
LJN: What will you be playing?
GS: We’re going to play some of Julian’s tunes and arrangements, a couple of mine – with these shows it’s always nice to have a good variation of music for the audience to enjoy. You’ve got two pianos so it’s basically like having two orchestras, which is fantastic, so you want to create a range of textures and sonorities throughout the course of the concert. We’re definitely trying to choose a programme that goes into lots of different areas and has a bit of everything.