Impossible Gentlemen

Released July 2016

Jazzwise Top 10 Releases of 2016



Let’s Get Deluxe, the third album on Basho Records from transatlantic contemporary jazz supergroup The Impossible Gentlemen, captures a substantial but organic evolution in the group’s sound. Co-leaders Mike Walker and Gwilym Simcock consciously moved to broaden the instrumental palette at the earliest stages of the writing process, using melodies and counter melodies to create an intricate narrative.
By the time the group came to recording, the music had already been thoroughly road-tested on tour, with Gwilym Simcock making increasing use of keyboards in addition to the piano. On the finished album, Simcock demonstrates his virtuosity as a multi-instrumentalist, contributing parts on tuned percussion, French horn and flugel horn. This is not the only change, however. Saxophonist and clarinetist Iain Dixon steps in, further to augment and enhance the arrangements. Given his wide-ranging expertise across the woodwind spectrum, and his long-standing working relationship with Mike Walker, Iain was the obvious choice to fulfil this role.
Walker and Simcock have successfully made this new step in the group’s journey without compromising the often joyful and intense feeling in their music that has so far characterised their sound. They also make use of the abundant talents in the group as a whole. The new approach required careful attention to detail and the overdubbing of new parts, for which the skills of 14 Grammy award winning producer Steve Rodby proved essential. Drummer Adam Nussbaum continues to drive the band with energy and resourcefulness, as well as providing subtle variations in texture.
The music on Let’s Get Deluxe continues to veer further away from conventional ideas of ‘jazz’ and is influenced by great American artists such as Pat Metheny (with whom Simcock is now touring) and Steely Dan. The American inspirations are neatly counterbalanced by British influences too, including an acknowledgement of the far-reaching inspiration of the late John Taylor. Although written before his passing, the group have been performing ‘It Could Have Been a Simple Goodbye’ as ‘A Simple Goodbye’ in tribute to him. There is also the group’s distinctively British sense of humour, from the album’s mischievous title to Walker’s wordplay in many of the track titles. The Impossible Gentlemen remains a collaborative venture in both music and spirit.

Track Listing:

1. Let’s Get Deluxe (Gwilym Simcock / Mike Walker) 6:05

2. It Could Have Been a Simple Goodbye (Gwilym Simcock / Mike Walker) 7:30

3. A Fedora for Dora (Gwilym Simcock / Mike Walker) 8:21

4. Miniature (Gwilym Simcock / Mike Walker) 2:26

5. Terrace Legend (Gwilym Simcock / Mike Walker) 8:38

6. (Gwilym Simcock / Mike Walker) 6:10

7. Hold Out for the Sun (Gwilym Simcock / Mike Walker) 6:40

8. Intro to Propane Jane (Gwilym Simcock / Mike Walker) 0:40

9. Propane Jane (Gwilym Simcock / Mike Walker) 6:06

10. Speak to Me of Home (Gwilym Simcock / Mike Walker) 7:07


Gwilym Simcock: piano, keyboards, french horn, flugel horn, accordion, vibraphone, marimba, percussion

Mike Walker: guitar, dog whistle

Iain Dixon: soprano and tenor saxes, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute and alto flute

Steve Rodby: bass

Adam Nussbaum: drums

Recorded February, 2015, at Crumbleton Manor and Chetham’s School of Music; Crumbleton Manor and Chetham’s School of Music; Curtis Schwartz Studio, Ardingly, West Sussex

Produced by Steve Rodby, Gwilym Simcock and Mike Walker


The Anglo-American supergroup The Impossible Gentlemen’s third CD on Basho Records hits you right between the eyes with its mix of seductively sing-a-long melodies, classy arrangements and tastefully succinct improvisation. The recording sees an extension of the instrumental palette with the addition of woodwind all-rounder Iain Dixon and Gwilym Simcock at his most versatile on various keyboards and tuned percussion instruments, as well as acoustic piano. The extra layer of sound is subtly and effectively woven into the arrangements as opposed to providing background fill.

The Metheny Group-like opening title track’s memorable hook has the new full-time bassist and longtime Pat Metheny Group member Steve Rodby laying down one of the most deliciously snaky electric funk bass lines you’ll hear for a long time. There are echoes of Chick Corea and Return to Forever on ‘A Fedora for Dora’ and it’s not hard to imagine Donald Fagen singing raspy vocals over the excellent ballad ‘It Could Have Been A Simple Goodbye’, the co-writers Simcock and Walker’s tribute to pianist John Taylor. The Impossible Gentlemen might not feature too high on the hipster scale compared to an electric Brit jazz ensemble such as Troyka but the Sco-influenced grunge-funk of ‘Dog Time’ with growling dog samples is something that the aforementioned trio might well have been happy to come up with. ‘Terrace Legend’, about an unlikely Stoke City FC kit man, has a Zawinul-esque African-flecked groove while the contrasting closing piece ‘Speak To Me Of Home’ is reminiscent of Simcock’s sometime pastoral chamber trio Acoustic Triangle, with Dixon taking his only solo on soprano sax very well. It’s a brighter, more uplifting and assertive album compared with the previous two, but just as sophisticated.

Selwyn Harris (Jazzwise)