Gwilym Simcock - Keys to the city

The name Gwilym Simcock has been on everyone’s lips on the UK jazz scene over the last few years. The pianist emerged fully formed after a dazzling spell at music college with a firm classical and jazz grounding and then quickly found his feet winning prizes, playing with legendary jazz figures like Kenny Wheeler and Dave Holland and quickly making a reputation for himself as an extraordinary new talent, making him the most talked about pianist in the UK since the early days of Django Bates. Stuart Nicholson meets him in the recording studio as he prepares to move his career one step further on with the making of his first album. Gwilym Simcock - Keys to the city
Pianist Gwilym Simcock says the experience of making his first album under his own name is “scary.” At 26, he is, by common consent, a major star in the making and the most talked about young musician in British jazz for decades. In a relatively short space of time he has earned the admiration of both fans and fellow musicians alike. When he appeared on Spike Wells’ recent album Reverence, the veteran drummer, who knows a thing or two about pianists, said he thought Simcock was on track to become “the greatest pianist this country has ever produced.”  

Praise indeed, but Simcock takes it all in his stride. He’s well aware he’s a work in progress, albeit in fast, upward ascent on the learning curve, absorbing knowledge and experience as he reaches towards his own individual voice. “It’s a bit like making a stew,” he says. “Put all these ingredients and seasonings together and eventually it will come out as your stew, which will be slightly different to somebody else’s stew because its got that slightly different ratio of ingredients. There might be things that sound like somebody else, but I think you can drive yourself nuts trying not to sound like anybody! You just try and be as individual as possible but at the end of the day I have just about come to the age where I can accept there are things about my playing which have come from somewhere, and you just have to work at it and hope what eventually comes out is yourself.”

But while he may not, by his own incredibly high standards, be quite the finished article yet, he is nevertheless a formidable player. After BBC, Perrier, British Jazz and Parliamentary jazz awards, recognition as the first ever BBC Radio 3 New Generations Jazz Artist and countless rave reviews of his live performances, he acknowledges that the time had come for him to finally define himself as an artist with his own recording. 

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