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Marlon Simon: On Different Paths


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Harry Sepulveda has great taste in Latin music, especially Latin-jazz. He should, considering that for decades he managed Record Mart, the Latin record store that first opened in 1958 and stood in the Times Square subway station near the Grand Central shuttle. I first met Harry in the 1970s when the record shop was located several steps down from the shuttle, near the BMT line, where the N and the RR stopped. Back then, I pored over the bins, asking Harry all sorts of questions about Latin music. Sadly, Record Mart closed in 2020 due to the pandemic.

So whenever I receive a package in the mail with Harry's return address, I take the contents seriously. This time Harry sent a single CD—Marlon Simon and the Nagual Spirits' On Different Paths (Truth Revolution). The album is Latin jazz, but it's way more than that. The album is loaded with a wide range of rhythms, jazz feel and tenderness.

Drummer and composer Marlon Simon was born in Venezuela and arrived in the U.S. in 1987. In 1991, he completed a bachelors degree in jazz performance and contemporary music from New York's The New School for Social Research. He spent years in New York working with artists such as Hilton Ruiz, Jerry González, Dave Valentin, Bobby Watson, Charles Fambrough and Aretha Franklin. His brothers Edward, a pianist, and Michael, a trumpeter, joined him.

His band, the Nagual Spirits, was formed in 1994 to showcase his compositions. In addition to performing, Marlon has worked as an educator leading workshops and master classes at colleges and underprivileged public schools in the New York area. Grants and awards helped him travel and play in Canada, Poland, Netherlands Antilles, Bolivia, France and Australia. [Photo above, current members of Marlon Simon and the Nagual Sprits, from left Michael Simon, Roberto Quintero, Alex Norris, Edward Simon, Marlon Simon, Peter Brainin and Boris Kozlov. Photo by Marcela Joya]

Released in January, On Different Paths is Marlon's sixth album under his name (there are many more with Marlon as a sideman) and his most ambitious recording. The musicians are Marlon Simon (d,perc), Edward Simon (p), Boris Koslov (b), Alex Norris (tp,flug horn), Michael Simon (tp), Kevin Newton (French horn), Monica Ellis (bassoon), Peter Brainin (ts,ss), Roberto Quintero (congas,pec) and Rhumer Mora (bongos). 

The Latin jazz on this album is unlike any you've heard before. Marlon's original compositions seem to evolve organically, shifting moods and rhythms as they flower. The music is truly extraordinary. Do yourself a favor and give a listen. As Harry said when he called to follow up, “Papa, did you dig Marlon? Wild right?" Plenty wild, Harry, and peaceful.

I love this album.

JazzWax tracks. You'll find Marlon Simon and the Nagual Spirits' On Different Paths (Truth Revolution) here, here (scroll down) and on streaming platforms, including YouTube.

JazzWax clips: Here's the title track...

Here's Straight Ahead...

Here's Un Canto Llanero...

And here's a trailer for the album with the band...

Continue Reading...

This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved.


Boris Kozlov
bass, acoustic
Alex Norris
Peter Brainin
Kevin Newton
french horn
Monica Ellis

Album information

Title: On Different Paths | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Truth Revolution Records





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