Rick Simpson - Semi Wogan
(SaySo Records SEHSO04CD, CD review by Chris Parker)
‘Highly sophisticated and beautiful’ is altoist Martin Speake’s reaction to the music and playing of pianist Rick Simpson, and this, the latter’s debut album as a leader, contains nine examples of his impressive compositional and instrumental talent.
His sprightly, eloquent, often quirky piano is at the heart of proceedings, whether the piece is a lively meditation on John Wyndham’s post-apocalyptic novel The Day of the Triffids or one of a series of absorbing explorations of contemporary jazz developments incorporating everything from hectic post-bop group interplay to the odd burst of free improvisation, but Simpson is sensitively but robustly supported throughout by a supremely sympathetic, adaptable and resourceful band: tenor player George Crowley, bassist Dave Manington, drummer Jon Scott, joined on the album’s closer, ‘Almost’, by the serene vocals of Brigitte Beraha.
Simpson’s credits include work with Speake, Stan Sulzman and Alan Barnes (all keen and perceptive observers of the UK jazz scene), so he comes with impeccable credentials, and this fresh and original set is a fine calling card.
Album launch 12 September, Pizza Express Jazz Club. Other tour dates here