Reviewed: Gwilym Simcock trio, International Piano Trio Festival, Ronnie Scott’s, London

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 …

Published: 8 Nov 2019. Updated: 8 months.

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.

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Victoria Geelan trio, Pat’s, Enniskillen – Fermanagh Live

Walking through the doors ‘Social Call’, the Jon Hendricks-Gigi Gryce song were the first sounds that marlbank encountered, the trio gig already just underway. In a long very alive not too echoey brick and wood constructed room that has a high …

Published: 8 Nov 2019. Updated: 3 months.

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Walking through the doors ‘Social Call’, the Jon Hendricks-Gigi Gryce song were the first sounds that marlbank encountered, the trio gig already just underway.

In a long very alive not too echoey brick and wood constructed room that has a high ceiling, the trio not amped up too much the level only upped a bit later on so we could hear the bass a bit better, a congenial murmuring of conversation like overtones warmed the space just the right side of being intrusive and contributed to the ambient sound, Derry based Omagh singer Victoria Geelan, last in Enniskillen with her Nina Simone themed project, here in her band Omagh scene the Burrellian guitarist Paul Maguire returning to Enniskillen where he is becoming a regular and double bassist Rohan Armstrong, (known for his work with the very fine Hendersonian tenorist Meilana Gillard) were the players. Victoria has always reminded me of June Christy and she has a fine voice to merit such a comparison, very strong as she rises to the top of her range and yet tender.

‘Summer Wind’ among a standards strewn set was the pick of the evening. Delightfully Victoria’s baby nestled at the back of the room became a backing singer so Maguire and Armstrong had to play an unplanned instrumental while Victoria went over in response to the gurgling and then returned to the stage to follow with the next number, Ellington’s ‘Sophisticated Lady’, the Mitchell Parish lyrics painting such a vivid picture “Smoking, drinking/never thinking of tomorrow/nonchalant diamonds shining/dancing, dining/with some man in a restaurant”. The key difficult question of a song about interior desire following, “Is that all you really want?” Answer there needs to be none.

An excellent showing: the audience responded best to the Nina Simone material with the finger popping 'Love Me or Leave Me' at the end, “ba ba” in the arms of the festival chair Ann McDermott looking very content and happy. SG