As their name suggests, The Impossible Gentlemen are no ordinary band. Crossing generational and geographical boundaries, this jazz supergroup is a special, unique experience both for the musicians and for audiences. As the band convenes relatively infrequently, every gig and every recording is a magical event that captures something once seemingly ‘impossible’.
‘Internationally Recognised Aliens’, the band’s second album, finds them branching out yet further, taking new risks and making music that is adventurous, accessible and tinged with sometimes surreal humour. In addition to the established quartet of Gwilym Simcock, Mike Walker, Steve Swallow and Adam Nussbaum, 13 Grammy award-winner Steve Rodby now takes on a greater role, serving as producer and playing bass on two tracks. Steve Rodby has been part of the band for over a year, touring with the group. He brings a wealth of ideas and experience from his long career working with Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays.
Three tracks (Modern Day Heroes, Heute Loiter and Love In Unexpected Places) are co-writes between Simcock and Walker. Both of these excellent musicians are used to more auteurist compositional scenarios, so this collaborative process took the musicians away from their comfort zones and kept the music sounding fresh and exciting. Sometimes this was a matter of Walker adding key detail to a virtually completed Gwilym Simcock tune (Modern Day Heroes), at others (Love in Unexpected Places), the pieces emerged naturally from rehearsals. Walker’s interest in blurring the lines between jazz, rock, pop and classical music is an ever-present feature, creating a new whole from these tried and tested forms.
Humour is also a hugely important aspect of this album’s idiosyncratic character. Heute Loiter begins with Mike Walker grappling for the right sound on his guitar, whilst Crankof Cam Bay was inspired by one of Steve Swallow’s stories about a man whose hideaway vacation home is interrupted with the sounds of marauding hoards of tourist families and whom he heckles with a megaphone. It features the voice of Swallow himself.
Whereas much of the music contained on the band’s debut had been written before the group had even been formed, all the music for ‘Internationally Recognised Aliens’ was penned with this particular ensemble in mind. Just To See You even presented a rare opportunity to implement the procedure known as ‘Steve Squared’, with Steve Swallow playing the melody and Steve Rodby underpinning the groove.
This is honest, joyful music that tells a strong story and takes the listener on a journey. The music is also unpredictable and exciting, offering different spaces for improvisation rather than the usual theme and improvising sequence. A key aspiration for the band is longevity, and they seem poised to succeed - this is music that stands to be listened to repeatedly, yielding new surprises and greater detail with every play.
23/09/2013 Peter Bacon, The Jazz Breakfast
a four-way marriage made in heaven...simply brilliant
Their second album builds upon the success of its acclaimed predecessor. Another triumph for The Impossible Gentlemen. Read Full Article
01/09/2013 Mark Gilbert, Jazz Journal 5 stars *****
This set from the transatlantic heroes is alive all the way, every detail apparent, the music breathing as if it had all the time in the world. It’s the first time the group has worked with producer and sometime Pat Metheny Group bassist Steve Rodby and one wonders if he had a seismic effect on mood and actual arrangement. If not, what did? A new high for the combo. I doubt they’ve been heard to better effect. This is one that shouldn’t be missed.
31/08/2013 Mike Hobart Financial Times
Mike Walker's acerbic picks, strums and funky rhythm guitar provide an unexpected opening...then sensitive, fluent and appealing....
31/08/2013 John Bungey, The Times
Album number two is a sophistated melodic set from the brisk guitar funk of opener Heute Loiter to the ruminative piano of Ever After.
30/08/2013 John Fordham, The Guardian 4 Stars ****
this is a fine second album from the Gents, and some of Walker's and Simcock's improvisations are awesome. Read Full Article
30/08/2013 Jack Massarik, Evening Standard 4 stars****
Take two British stars, guitarist Mike Walker and pianist Gwilym Simcock, add two US rhythm sages, bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Adam Nussbaum, and you have a true supergroup. The sequel to their dazzling debut album is no let-down, with similarly impressive writing allied to a generally mellower vibe.
12/08/2013 Stuart Nicholson, Jazzwise 4 stars ****
The Impossible gentlemen have done, the well, impossible ...this is an altogether more bravura outing than their debut album ....This is one of those albums that makes you say "yeah, I've gotta see this band in person".