The Impossible Gentlemen are a joint American and British supergroup, who return next month for a long UK tour with this repertoire. It's significantly different material from 2011's debut album, and reflects their evolving creativity. All the pieces, except for bassist Steve Swallow's lovely ballad Ever After, are by guitarist Mike Walker and pianist Gwilym Simcock; the producer was former Pat Metheny bassist Steve Rodby (who also takes Swallow's bass role on Simcock's rhythmically fiendish, Samuel Barber-inspired contrapuntal feature Barber Blues). On the opening Heute Loiter, Walker's muscular, Scofield-like guitar sound leads a bewitching blend of blues-funk with eerie, bell-like abstractions. Simcock's tender ballad Just to See You bookends a willowy, patiently weighted piano solo; later, the pianist is unwaveringly but vivaciously Jarrett-like in a quietly pushing groove over Adam Nussbaum's brushwork on Walker's The Sliver of Other Lovers. The lengthy, spoken anecdote on Crank of Cam Bay (a true tale about an eccentric recluse) has a whiff of you-needed-to-be-there, but regardless this is a fine second album from the Gents, and some of Walker's and Simcock's improvisations are awesome.
The Impossible Gentlemen: Internationally Recognised Aliens – review
John Fordham is the Guardian's main jazz critic. He has written several books on the subject, reported on it for publications including Time Out, Sounds, Wire and Word, and contributed to documentaries for radio and TV. He is a former editor of Time Out, City Limits and Jazz UK, and regularly contributes to BBC Radio 3's Jazz on 3