Day 8 Mercury Prize – Gwilym Simcock – Good Days At Schloss Emlau

13 Aug

It’s refreshing to see a jazz act this year. I know that the Mercury board have been trying to change their direction as of recent by including more urban and current acts and people are finding that very refreshing. Personally, I’m finding this act the most refreshing of the lot. Gwilym Simcock is a British pianist and composer who is known for mixing elements of jazz and classical. It’s very inventive and really nice to listen to. In the jazz world this man is a legend having one many awards connected to jazz music and has had several recordings that have been highly praised. This is his first album that has hit a more mainstream audience, not quite chart-topping but maybe outside Radio 3’s audience.

This man is a serious jazz musician and can be a little hard to come across but if you heard it in the mood I think it’s hard not to appreciate. He may not be of act that you put on your iPod but one that you have a lot of time for. These Are The Good Days takes us into the album and very smoothly at that. It feels like this would play at some hotel’s restaurant in New York but if you’re one for having a good soundtrack at a dinner party you’ll definitely flock to it. Mezzotint is the second track and for those who haven’t heard any of this guy before (I hadn’t before this album) you will know what people mean by saying that he mixes jazz and classical very well. It’s very serene and quite soothing at that.

Gripper is a bit more different and shows his knowledge for patterns on piano and makes complex phrasing seem so simple to him. The song continues this ‘bar in New York’ feel, which works very well. Plain Song does what it says on the tin and is in fact quite a plain song but feels like a lot  of thought has gone into it. Somehow a part of the song reminded me of Scott Joplin.

Northern Smiles is a bit more out there and goes through with this jazz blurred with classical thing that the record was based on. The song works well and is definitely the most different on the tracks and the most lively. Can We Still Be Friends is a bit more sad, slow and low in terms of some of the background keys. Definitely a standout track, it feels more like a story than a song.

Wake Up Call could fit very easily into Apple’s ringtones for their iPhones. It’s the most sporadic of all the song and the most complicated and thus the most entertaining. The LP ends on Elmau Tage which works well as a curtain call and  closes the show well. It’s not too slow nor too fast. A good song.

This is album is very decent. Not one for the mercury but it is good that its difference is being recognised and praised. If you’re a jazz or classical fan then this is a must have. If you’re looking for a new dinner party album then this is perfect for you. This isn’t the sort of music I put on a lot but I have a lot of time for this guy. Very talented.

Score: 7/10


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