Gwilym Simcock is one of the most gifted pianists and imaginative composers on the European scene. He moves effortlessly between jazz and classical music, with a ‘harmonic sophistication and subtle dovetailing of musical traditions’.
Gwilym has been hailed as a pianist of ‘exceptional’, ‘brilliant’ and ‘dazzling’ ability, and his music has been widely acclaimed as ‘engaging, exciting, often unexpected, melodically enthralling, complex yet hugely accessible', and above all 'wonderfully optimistic’.
Gwilym’s influences are wide ranging, from jazz legends including Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Jaco Pastorius and Pat Metheny, to classical composers including Maurice Ravel, Henri Dutilleux, Béla Bartók and Mark-Anthony Turnage. Although principally a jazz artist, Gwilym has composed numerous works for larger Classical ensemble that combine through-composed elements with improvisation, creating a sound that is distinctive and very much his own.
In the last few years, Gwilym has become renowned for his solo performances, releasing a critically acclaimed album 'Good Days at Schloss Elmau' in 2011 and touring throughout Europe and to places as far afield as Australia, the USA, Canada, Korea and China to name but a few.
Gwilym has toured extensively with the cream of British and international jazz artists including Dave Holland, Kenny Wheeler, Lee Konitz, Bill Bruford’s Earthworks, Bob Mintzer and Bobby McFerrin. He co-leads the Anglo-American Supergroup 'The Impossible Gentlemen' with British Guitar legend Mike Walker, Steve Rodby and Adam Nussbaum. He has also toured with Classical virtuoso Nigel Kennedy..
Gwilym's career is unique in spanning a huge range of musical settings. Testament to this is the fact that he was the first BBC New Generation Artist from a Jazz background, and that his album “Good Days at Schloss Elmau” was an album of the year in 2011 at the prestigious British music award the 'Barclaycard Mercury Prize'. He has performed with orchestras, choirs, big bands, dancers as well as performing with musicians from diverse backgrounds including the classical, jazz, folk and rock traditions. Gwilym has also written music that has appeared on television and on stage, most recently composing the music for an adaptation of Edward Albee's classic 'A Delicate Balance' at the Almeida theatre in London. He has frequently appeared on British television and radio and was guest presenter on ‘Saturday Classics’ on BBC Radio 3, and recently mentored and accompanied the finalists at the first BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year awards on BBC4 TV.
Gwilym has led and recorded a variety of different projects. His debut album “Perception” was nominated for Best Album in the BBC Jazz Awards 2008 and has been critically acclaimed at home and abroad. Subsequent albums have featured various projects, and have been universally praised with reviews citing his work as "sublime", "flawless", "impressive" "a marker that few others are likely to equal".
Awards include 'Best Band' at the Perrier Award, 'Rising Star' at the BBC Jazz Awards and the British Jazz Awards, and both “Jazz Musician of the Year” and "Best Band" (with The Impossible Gentlemen) at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards. His impressive formal education includes Trinity College of Music (London), Chetham’s School of Music (Manchester) – where he studied classical Piano, French Horn and composition - and the Royal Academy of Music (London) where he graduated from the jazz course with first class honours and the coveted 'Principal's Prize' for outstanding achievement.Gwilym is Professor of Jazz Piano at the Royal Academy of Music, and is very much in demand for his teaching and masterclasses.
Mike Walker was born in Salford in 1962, Mike launched himself upon the Manchester scene with River People, a much loved fusion band, and then went on to play with Alan Butler’s quartet for six years. It was with the Mike Gibbs band that Mike was called upon to deputise for an absent John Scofield, during which he was heard by Kenny Wheeler who asked him to play with his big band. Also at this time, returning to his fusion roots, Mike had formed a band with pianist and composer Roy Powell which they called Some Other Country with bassist Gary Culshaw, and drummer Steve Gilbert. Mike and Gary had previously played together, and had already formed a deep, and almost telepathic, understanding and feeling for each other's playing. Some Other Country soon established itself as one of the North's favourite fusion bands, generating great excitement, and many devoted fans.
Mike's musical collaborations continued to expand during the late 80s and early 90s. One such was with Nikki and Richard Iles who had formed a band called Emanon, which provided a vehicle for the compositional and arranging skills of Nikki and Richard, and fertile ground for Mike's brand of inspirational playing. Nikki and Mike would subsequently enlist the skills of Gary Culshaw, and drummer Steve Brown, to form the Mike Walker Quartet, a group which entranced audiences with their empathic interplay.
Also at this time Mike was playing in the Sylvan Richardson band, where he met his long-time collaborator and friend, the sax player Iain Dixon. Mike, Iain, Sylvan, and drummer Mikey Wilson would later form the band which came to be known as Brazil Nuts.
Whilst in Zurich with the Kenny Wheeler Big Band, Mike met Julian Arguelles and subsequently joined his quartet. He also recorded several CDs with him, one of which featured on bass, Steve Swallow, with whom Mike would record again on the Mike Gibbs album 'By The Way'. In the early 90's Mike toured extensively in various bands led by Tommy Smith, including a quartet with Mick Hutton on bass, and the Canadian, Ian Froman, on drums. Occasionally Tommy added Niels Lan Doky or Jason Rebello on piano. One of Tommy's quartets featured the wonderful Scottish drummer Tom Bancroft, an association that would lead to Mike, Tom, and Tom's sax playing brother Phil, working together at the Glasgow Jazz summer school. Phil asked Mike to join his newly formed band. They've been touring steadily since, together with Thomas Strønen, the Norwegian drummer, and bass player Steve Watts who replaced Reid Anderson of 'The Bad Plus'.
During the last decade Mike has also visited the States, and most of Europe, as George Russell's guitarist, recording with him on several occasions. Also, as a member the Creative jazz Orchestra, Mike has played with Vince Mendoza, Anthony Braxton, Bill Frisell, Tim Berne, and Mark-Anthony Turnage.
Amongst the many other fine musicians that Mike has played and recorded with over the last 20 years, mention must be made of Dave Holland, John Taylor, Tal Farlow, Bob Moses, Arild Anderson, and Palle Mikkelborg, as well as some fine vocalists including Mica Paris, Norma Winstone, and Jacqui Dankworth with whom Mike regularly tours.
In 2008 Mike released his own album called 'Madhouse and the Whole Thing There'. It features the members of Brazil Nuts, plus strings, French horn, piano, brass section and vocals etc.
Mike says about it "This album is the first under my name. It's about dissonance masked by consonance, and having clear statements despite the density. I wanted the harmony to be supported by the melody. I wanted the rhythm and bar lengths to feel completely natural, even though they're not. I wanted it to be singable, and street-walk whistleable. I didn't want the face to reflect the inner workings."
Mike is very busy with new projects. He has written new material for another album which will feature some great musicians from England and USA. He has nearly finished his book 'The Comprehensive Fretboard System'. He is working hard to build a publishing business with long time friend and musician Iain Dixon, and there are plenty more gigs lined up in the future. He lives in Rossendale with his utterly beautiful children, who provide unending inspiration, without even trying.
Steve Rodby-acoustic and electric bassist, editor and producer was born in Joliet, Illinois. Steve began studying classical orchestral bass at age 10, and quickly developed an intense interest in jazz and pop music. A graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in classical bass performance, Steve studied with Warren Benfield (Chicago Symphony Orchestra) and the renowned jazz bassist Rufus Reid. Steve has performed with numerous jazz greats, including Joe Henderson, Roy Haynes, Tony Bennett, Teddy Wilson, Milt Jackson, Art Farmer, Sonny Stitt, George Coleman, Ira Sullivan, Zoot Sims, Lee Konitz, Jackie McLean, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Kenny Burrell, James Moody, Johnny Griffin and Monty Alexander. In addition to being the bassist in the Pat Metheny Group for the past 30 years, Steve has conducted orchestras, recorded with many other artists in both jazz and pop, and lately has spent much of his time producing and editing, both audio and video. His work as a producer includes Oregon In Moscow (Oregon’s recording with the Moscow Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra) which was nominated for four Grammy awards, five records by Eliane Elias – including Dreamer, Something For You, Bossa Nova Stories – and several non-PMG projects with Pat, including the Jim Hall & Pat Metheny duo record, two Pat Metheny Trio records, the soundtrack for A Map Of The World and the Grammy winner One Quiet Night. He also did extensive production on two Michael Brecker recordings, Nearness Of You and the Grammy winner Pilgrimage. In all, Steve has won 13 Grammys. Steve edited the video and audio for the Pat Metheny Group’s DVDs Imaginary Day Live and The Way Up – Live, as well as other music videos, and several full length concert specials for PBS & DVD, including Anúna’s Celtic Origins. Recently, Steve worked as a producer on jazz bassist Charlie Haden’s Rambling Boy, performed on tour with singer/songwriter Boz Scaggs, and did production work on Maria Schneider's Grammy winning Sky Blue, Pat Metheny’s latest solo album Orchestrion, Eliane Elias' latest album Light My Fire, and Grammy Award winning "Best New Artist" Esperanza Spalding's Concert Music Society.
Adam Nussbaum is considered one of the finest drummers working today. He's played with a virtual "Who's Who" in the jazz world. Longtime associates have included: John Abercrombie, Michael & Randy Brecker, Eliane Elias, Gil Evans, Stan Getz, Vic Juris, James Moody, John Scofield, Joe Sample, Ohad Talmor, ‘Toots' Thielemans, Kenny Wheeler & NHØP, as well as freelancing with prominent artists of every generation, being a major asset no matter where he appears. Nussbaum has joined forces with other musicians to form such groups as “BANN” w/Seamus Blake, Jay Anderson & Oz Noy, “We3” w/Dave Liebman & Steve Swallow, "The Impossible Gentlemen" w/Gwilym Simcock, Steve Rodby & Mike Walker, “The Nuttree Quartet" w/John Abercrombie, Jerry Bergonzi & Gary Versace and "The ZZ Quartet w/Ratko Zjaca, Simone Zanchini & Martin Gjakanovski. He's been on hundreds of recordings, including the Grammy winning "Don't Try This At Home” recorded with Michael Brecker. In addition, Nussbaum reaches out to the next generation. He is an in-demand educator doing Clinics and Master Classes, teaching at such institutions as Berklee, NYU, State University of New York, the New School, and at numerous Conservatories around the world. His abilities have brought opportunities for him to work with the finest makers of all things drum-related. Working with Sonor drums, he helped design a line in the ‘HiLite’ series. In conjunction with Zildjian cymbals, Nussbaum helped developed the “Renaissance” & "Pre-Aged” K. Zildjian cymbals. He also co-produced with Hudson Music, "The Art of Playing Brushes." He was born in New York City and grew up in Norwalk, Connecticut and started to play drums at age 12 after studying piano for five years; he also playing bass and saxophone as a teenager. He moved to New York City in 1975 to attend The Davis Center for Performing Arts at City College. He eventually settled on drums.
Iain Dixon began his professional career with the BBC Radio Orchestra and BBC Big Band, where he stayed for eight years before becoming a freelance player on the London music scene. He has played as a member of UK jazz groups led by Mike Walker, Julian Arguelles, Dave Green, Alan Barnes and Dave Newton, as well as leading his own bands. As a session player, Iain has appeared on many albums with artists as diverse as Joni Mitchell, Primal Scream and The Spice Girls. He has been a featured soloist on numerous film soundtracks including "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (dir. Anthony Minghella) and "Bright Young Things" (dir. Stephen Fry.) Following a UK tour with the Michael Brecker Quindectet, Iain travelled to New York in 2003 to record the album "Wide Angles" with the band. He has been touring with Bryan Ferry over the last ten years and currently teaches Jazz Improvisation at Chetham's School of Music, in addition to running his own Jazz Summer School in collaboration with Mike Walker.