Piano Jazz sessions
Gwilym Simcock / Luca Sestak Duo
Thursday 3 May 2018, 8.30 p.m.
Since opening, the Fondation Louis Vuitton has hosted an exciting programme of concerts showcasing iconic pianists, both upcoming and established. In 2018, the auditorium is introducing jazz into this mix, with the launch of its Piano Jazz Sessions. Like its classical recitals, it will feature leading pianists in the genre as well as promising newcomers, with an eclectic range of compositional styles and sounds. This series of four concerts will run from the end of April to mid-May, reflecting diverse approaches and featuring both improvised and new works.
Part 1 – Luca Sestak Duo – piano-drums duo
Part 2 - Gwilym Simcock, solo piano
First half – Luca Sestak Duo
A spirited, talented German pianist, 23-year-old Luca Sestak briefly studied classical music before turning to boogie-woogie, a style he has been honing for the past decade. This offshoot of blues piano has been around since the 1920s and is considered a key element in the birth of rock’n’roll. Naturally, blues is the second key influence in Luca’s repertoire, which combines themes by boogie-woogie pianists such as Albert Ammons from Chicago, and blues pianists like James Booker from New Orleans. On his second album, “New Way”, Luca plays his own compositions, rich with the rhythmic and melodic characteristics of African-American music. Ably complemented by drummer Johannes Niklas, Sestak captivates his audience with his communicative energy and dynamism, and seduces them with his frenzied sounds.
Second half - Gwilym Simcock
This concert will be another opportunity to appreciate British pianist Gwilym Simcock, recently discovered in France with the Crystal quartet led by French saxophonist Céline Bonacina, as well as in legendary guitarist Pat Metheny’s band. Born in 1981, Simcock gained a solid grounding in classical music before launching a jazz-influenced career, having listened to the recordings of Keith Jarrett. This inspiration is particularly noticeable in his melodic improvisations, which feature frequent references to classical music. In his solo concerts, Simcock mainly performs his own compositions, with a virtuosity recognised by his heroes including Chick Corea and Pat Metheny. Considered one of the new generation of British musicians, Simcock has taken up the work initiated by his compatriots including pianist John Taylor, who died in 2015, and to whom he now pays homage with Dave Holland and Mike Walker. At the forefront of every scene, Simcock continues to create a buzz and surprise his audience at every turn.
Gwilym Simcock is one of the most gifted pianists and imaginative composers on the European scene. He moves effortlessly between jazz and classical music, with a ‘harmonic sophistication and subtle dovetailing of musical traditions’. Gwilym has been hailed as a pianist of ‘exceptional’, ‘brilliant’ and ‘dazzling’ ability, and his music has been widely acclaimed as ‘engaging, exciting, often unexpected, melodically enthralling, complex yet hugely accessible', and above all 'wonderfully optimistic’.
Gwilym’s influences are wide ranging, from jazz legends including Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Jaco Pastorius and Pat Metheny, to classical composers including Maurice Ravel, Henri Dutilleux, Béla Bartók and Mark-Anthony Turnage. Although principally a jazz artist, Gwilym has composed numerous works for larger Classical ensemble that combine through-composed elements with improvisation, creating a sound that is distinctive and very much his own.
In the last few years, Gwilym has become renowned for his solo performances, releasing a critically acclaimed album 'Good Days at Schloss Elmau' in 2011 and touring throughout Europe and to places as far afield as Australia, the USA, Canada, Korea and China to name but a few. Gwilym has toured extensively with the cream of British and international jazz artists including Dave Holland, Kenny Wheeler, Lee Konitz, Bill Bruford’s Earthworks, Bob Mintzer and Bobby McFerrin. He co-leads the Anglo-American Supergroup 'The Impossible Gentlemen' with British Guitar legend Mike Walker, Steve Rodby and Adam Nussbaum. He has toured with Classical virtuoso Nigel Kennedy. He is currently on tour with Pat Metheny, Antonio Sanchez and Linda Oh.
Gwilym's career is unique in spanning a huge range of musical settings, and the fact that he was the first BBC New Generation Artist from a Jazz background, and that his album “Good Days at Schloss Elmau” was an album of the year in 2011 at the prestigious British music award the 'Barclaycard Mercury Prize' is testament to this. He has performed with orchestras, choirs, big bands, dancers as well as performing with musicians from diverse backgrounds including the classical, jazz, folk and rock traditions. Gwilym has also written music that has appeared on Television and on stage, most recently composing the music for an adaptation of Edward Albee's classic 'A Delicate Balance' at the Almeida theatre in London. He has frequently appeared on British television and radio and was guest presenter on “Saturday Classics” and guest on “Composer of the Week” on BBC Radio 3, and mentored and accompanied the finalists at the BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year awards on BBC 4 TV in both 2014 and 2016.
Gwilym has lead and recorded a variety of different projects. His debut album “Perception” was nominated for Best Album in the BBC Jazz Awards 2008 and has been critically acclaimed at home and abroad. Subsequent albums have featured various projects, and have been universally praised with reviews citing his work as « sublime », « flawless », « impressive » « a marker that few others are likely to equal ».
Awards include 'Best Band' at the Perrier Award, 'Rising Star' at the BBC Jazz Awards and the British Jazz Awards, and both “Jazz Musician of the Year” and « Best Band » (with The Impossible Gentlemen) at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards. His impressive formal education includes Trinity College of Music (London), Chetham’s School of Music (Manchester) – where he studied classical Piano, French Horn and composition - and the Royal Academy of Music (London) where he graduated from the jazz course with first class honours and the coveted 'Principal's Prize' for outstanding achievement. Gwilym is Professor of Jazz Piano at the Royal Academy of Music, and is very much in demand for his teaching and masterclasses.
© James Berry
Luca Sestak Duo
This just 21-year old musician and winner of the “German Boogie Woogie Award” enchants his audiences re- peatedly with a musicality and enthusiasKc performance as well as with a breathtaking show. Blues, boogie- woogie, jazz, funk and pop are all mastered and crossed by the young pianist who has performed in concerts and fesKvals all over Europe and the U.S.
Luca captures concert audiences over and over again by blending the perfect command of his instrument with humorous showy inserts, a perfect repertoire of thrilling fast boogies with wonderful ballads and blues pieces as well, proving that he is a unique musical personality already. Therefore, his concerts are not to be missed not only by boogie and blues enthusiasts, but a wide range of listeners, including a new generaKon that may be less familiar with the primary genres. Music criKcs celebrate the musician who’s videos have received about ten million hits on YouTube as “The future of blues and boogie-woogie piano.«
One of Germany's largest blues publicaKons, BluesNews magazine, recently reviewed his latest album, NEW WAY, as follows:
»Sestak plays with joke and humor. No wonder that the young man can already look back on some significant honors. However, that could wear itself out if talent isn't developed into well-founded art. On « NEW WAY », Sestak shows that he leb the status of young talent far behind and that in spite of his youthful age he already has a true unique arKsKc personality.“
Together with the young drummer Johannes Niklas they present a unique and capturing show which shall not be missed!