SGS Group, Inc. presents...
The SGS Group, Inc. presents... was released in 2008 on the Italian Music Center label and was recorded in Italy, the adopted home of bassist Goloubev. SGS Group, Inc. consists of pianist Gwilym Simcock, bassist Yuri Goloubev, and drummer Asaf Sirkis. Very much a trio of equals, it is nominally led by Goloubev.
Simcock is one of the finest young pianists on the UK scene and also already a well-established composer. Apart from leading his own groups, he is also, along with Sirkis, a member of Tim Garland's Lighthouse Trio. A pianist very much in the mould of Keith Jarrett, Simcock also has strong classical and Third Stream leanings. Goloubev already had an illustrious career with leading classical orchestras and ensembles in his native Russia and toured widely internationally, before finally switching to his greater love, jazz, in 2004 and moving to Italy. Sirkis of course hardly needs an introduction here at all. Moving to the UK at the close of the 1990s, with an already enviable list of performing and recording credits, drumming icon Sirkis rapidly took the local and international scene by storm. Leading his own Asaf Sirkis Trio and Asaf Sirkis And The Inner Noise, Sirkis is a regular with more British and international leading bands than you could conveniently shake a (drum-) stick at, including legendary fusion pioneer Larry Coryell's Power Trio. His unmatched precision, timekeeping, sensitivity and inventiveness have made Sirkis into a true icon of the traps.
All in all then, SGS Group, Inc. is already something special in its line-up. Having performed together previously already, and recorded together in various other combinations, SGS Group, Inc. presents... indeed turns out to be something a bit extra special. For this album, Simcock, Goloubev and Sirkis came up with a wonderful concept. Instead of originals or the old standards, they decided on recording an album of rarely performed 'classics' from the previous generation of jazz masters, such as Allan Holdsworth, Bobby Watson, John Taylor, Buster Williams, and others, along with three originals each dedicated to one of the last-gen greats Sun Ra, Richie Beirach and Michael Brecker.
The net result is a thriller of an album. Simcock's ivories dance and sparkle, Goloubev's bass, sometimes elegantly bowed, sometimes smoothly plucked, has to be one of the finest in contemporary jazz, and Sirkis' trap work is, well, perfection itself as always and just leaves you breathless. The soloing all round is as superb as the ensemble playing and often full of surprises and originality, full of exuberance and just utterly delightful. SGS Group, Inc. breathe new life into these seldom heard classics (other than when performed by their original creators), and they always find and bring out something new in them.
The three originals, one each by Sirkis, Simcock, and Goloubev, not only fit in perfectly with the classics but capture the style of the artist whom they are dedicated to perfectly. Sirkis' Ida & Dactyl, first encountered on his album We Are Falling with his Inner Noise organ trio, in this piano trio arrangement somehow sounds even more Sun Ra like than ever. Simcock's Too Close To Call captures the spirit and elegance of Michael Brecker beautifully. Finally, Goloubev's reflective Mind Richie likewise evokes the spirit of Richie Beirach superbly while segueing seamlessly in every way into Allan Holdsworth's more animated Fred.
Gwilym Simcock is truly impressive, and not just here either. And not even thirty yet! Yuri Goloubev is a truly sensational bassist of whom one really doesn't hear enough in the UK. As for Asaf Sirkis, well, he's just Sirkis - like Tony Williams and Jack DeJohnette rolled into one with touches of Elvin Jones, and then raised to the 'nth degree, with his own unique style and limitless imagination and palette. Together, these three outstanding performers are exceptional, and with SGS Group, Inc. presents... they have come up with an outstanding album - amazing music played just amazingly.
Simcock-Goloubev-Sirkis' SGS Group, Inc. presents... is a thoroughly consistent and more than compelling album that ought not to be missing from any good music collection, let alone any jazz/modern jazz or piano trio collection. It's already found a place among my favourite piano trio albums of the last twenty to thirty years.
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