Jazz pianist and composer Rick Simpson is trying to convert me to his particular genre – and he’s succeeding, with the help of espresso martinis and improvisations of Gershwin on my old Bechstein grand, which preened and purred under his fingers.
Jazz is largely uncharted territory to me: when I listen, I feel like the classical music ingenue, entering the sacred shoebox of the Wigmore Hall for the first time. I worry that I won’t understand the music, or the specialist lingo. In fact, just as with classical music, jazz is begging you to surrender to its sounds.
Rick is a regular performer at Ronnie Scott’s, the 606 Jazz Club, The Vortex and The Bull’s Head, and he performs with many renowned jazz musicians, in addition to his sextet. His new album ‘Klammer’ contains nine original pieces composed and performed by Rick along with some of the UK’s best jazz musicians of their generation – Michael Chillingworth, George Crowley, Ralph Wyld, Tom Farmer and David Hamblett. The album reflects many of Rick’s influences (which you can read about in more detail in his Meet the Artist interview with me), including hip-hop and classical music, but this album is not a simple hommage to genres or musicians from another time. Instead, these influences are passed through the lens of Rick’s personal musical voice to create music which is vivid, urgent, smoochy, energetic, urban, tender and distinct. There’s fine ensemble playing, revealing multi-layered textures, crunchy sonorities and sensitive voicing, but equally there is freedom for individual improvisation and flights of fancy.
I’m definitely on the road to conversion.
My personal pics from this album