Returning next year to tour in quartet mode once again with Pat Metheny, according to pianist Gwilym Simcock’s manager Christine Allen, and with a landmark solo piano album already out this year, the pianist sold out Ronnie’s last night for this first gig by his longstanding trio in several years.
Simcock marked the occasion by writing some material for the festival and opened with ‘All Along’ a scampering tour de force. Next number ‘Victorville’ he told us was dedicated to bassist Yuri Goloubev’s interest in old aeroplanes. Later drummer Asaf Sirkis contributed the ballad ‘Portrait of a Woman’ and the second set encore was ‘How Deep is the Ocean’ Simcock prefacing the set after the intermission by telling us he had somehow ‘scalded’ his hand during the break which was a bit worrying but did not alter the quality of his formidable playing one tad.
Looking tanned and speaking in a Steve Coogan-esque lightly traced Mancunian accent he bowed enthusiastically with the other two at the end having thanked the audience for listening. Overall this was a dazzling display of effortless mastery. The trio’s take on Buster Williams’ ‘Christina’ was the runaway highlight of an engrossing evening that was full of skill and conversational insight.
Earlier the thumping techno LBT trio that Ronnie’s booker Paul Pace had talent spotted at Jazzahead this year rocked the room as the support act, the drummer even wearing ear protectors and necessarily so. The bar tender danced along like a sentry marking time contentedly to the metronomic beat.