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Edward Simon

Edward Simon, a native of Venezuela, has made a name for himself over decades in America as a jazz improviser, composer-arranger and band leader, with his profile heightening in recent years as he has explored the commonalities jazz can have with the folkloric sounds of Latin America. JazzTimes summed up his impact this way: “Simon is less talked about than many other important jazz pianists from the Caribbean and South America, but he may be the most complete creative artist among them.” Based in the San Francisco Bay Area as a member of the all-star SFJAZZ Collective, he has been a Guggenheim Fellow along with being awarded multiple composition grants as part of the Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works initiative. Simon, a Yamaha artist, has recorded 15 albums as a leader or co-leader; his latest is Sorrows and Triumphs, released via Sunnyside Records in April 2018. This follows Simon’s 2016 album Latin American Songbook, with the four-and-a-half-star DownBeat review praising its “grand and sophisticated” sound. Latin American Songbook also won Simon an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album. The New York Times has praised Simon’s “light, warm touch” as a pianist, while Jazz Journal International singled out “his deep emotional statements” as a composer and improviser.

Sorrows and Triumphs showcases the long-running virtuoso quartet Afinidad, featuring Simon alongside alto saxophonist David Binney, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade. The album’s color-rich arrangements also include several special guests: vocalist Gretchen Parlato, guitarist Adam Rogers and the chamber quintet Imani Winds, plus percussionists Rogerio Boccato and Luis Quintero. The album’s material blends two bodies of work commissioned from Simon by Chamber Music of America’s New Jazz Works: the suites “Sorrows and Triumphs” and “House of Numbers,” their individual movements re-sequenced to form a holistic listening experience that brims with a lyricism both intimate and majestic. About this music, influenced by Simon’s Buddhist practice, he says: “I wanted these compositions to bring joy to the listener, to be direct and accessible, with singable melodies.”

Simon first performed the “Sorrows and Triumphs” suite with Afinidad in 2009 at Walton Performing Arts Center in Arkansas and later at New York’s Jazz Standard, with performances broadcast on National Public Radio’s Jazz Set. Afinidad and Imani Winds unveiled the “House of Numbers” suite in 2016 at California’s University of the Pacific. Simon Rowe, executive director of Roots, Jazz & American Music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, attended the premiere of “House of Numbers,” saying afterward that the blend of the five Imani Winds with Simon’s jazz quartet was “mesmerizing,” as the “writing juxtaposed the lyrical and often dense textures of the quintet with the ever-changing, percolating rhythmic drive of Afinidad.”

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Mr. Simon's touch, light and warm, allows for his music to drift calmly, taking its time to get to where it has to go. —The New York Times

He doesn't go in for dazzle and fleet-fingered runs but contents himself with digging in and mining the music for drama and invention. He often turns these rural sounds into deep emotional statements. —Jazz Journal International

Simon is an important presence on the jazz and world music scene. —Los Angeles Times

Primary Instrument

Piano

Location

Oakland

Willing to teach

Advanced only

Credentials/Background

Pianist Edward Simon is an experienced educator who has conducted numerous clinics, master classes and workshops around the world, including the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada (2008); the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki (2006); NOCA, New Orleans, LA (2006); Temple University, Philadelphia, PA; East Stroudsburg University, PA; the Music Conservatory at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, MI; City College of New York; EAFIT Universidad Abierta, Medellín, Colombia, WMF Jazz Summer School and Arts Festival, Certaldo, Italy (2008|2009) and the Cork Music Academy, Cork, Ireland (2010). In 2009 Simon was a guest lecturer at New York University, discussing the compositional process of his “Venezuelan Suite”. In 2008 Simon was visiting professor at IUDEM, Caracas, Venezuela, as part of the Fulbright Senior Specialist Program. He has worked as adjunct faculty at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA (1996-2001) and currently teaches students from the New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music in New York. Simon has twice received a Certificate of Appreciation for Outstanding Service to Jazz Education (International Association of Jazz Educators, 1999 & 2004). In 2007, he was guest resident artist at Ursinus College and guest lecturer at Rutgers University. This year he was resident artist with the Simón Bolivar Big Band in Caracas, Venezuela and at Langnau Jazz Nights Festival, Langnau, Switzerland. Since 2010, Simon is Visiting Jazz Artist at Western Michigan University. He is currently Resident Artist at the Brubeck Institute. In an ensemble setting, Edward shows students how to develop a group sound and the necessary listening skills to play in a more interactive way. He teaches students how to correctly interpret and incorporate Latin American rhythms and styles into a jazz setting. Utilizing improvisation as a basis, Simon shows students how the compositional process can be instrumental in finding your voice as an artist. Simon has received numerous awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship (2010) and a MacDowell Fellowship (2011). He is currently a member of the SFJAZZ Collective, a prominent musician/composer jazz ensemble dedicated to creating new work and highlighting the music of historically significant jazz composers of the modern era. The Collective is comprised of “eight of the most in-demand” (New York Times) artists performing today. Edward Simon teaches privately. Hourly rate: $150

Clinic/Workshop Information

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Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Solo Live

Ridgeway Records
2021

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25 Years

Ridgeway Records
2020

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Sorrows & Triumphs

Sunnyside Records
2018

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Latin American...

Sunnyside Records
2017

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Agora

Simon Music Productions
2015

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Live in New York at...

Sunnyside Records
2013

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Equanimity

From: Sorrows & Triumphs
By Edward Simon

The Cha Cha

From: La Bikina
By Edward Simon

How Deep Is The Ocean

From: Danny Boy
By Edward Simon

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