Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!


Take Five With Randy Simon

Randy Simon By

Sign in to view read count
Meet Randy Simon:

Randy Simon had piano lessons for a year as a child, and took classical piano lessons for a period while in graduate school, but music took a back seat for many years as he built up a successful career as a physicist. "I did not return to the piano until I inherited the grand piano that I grew up with and started taking jazz piano lessons," says Simon. "After several years of study with jazz pianist Adrian Cohen, I realized I was a much more creative writer than I was a pianist. Piano lessons morphed into composition lessons and after a year, I had written a handful of tunes."

Simon's teacher suggested that he record the songs with some top local musicians, and that was the beginning of the Randy Simon Jazz Project. Since that time, Simon has released four albums (Suspended Motion, Awakening, Light It Up and now Nyhavn Live) that feature his colorful compositions interpreted by world- class musicians based in upstate New York. "Each project has been more complex and adventurous than the one before," Simon says. "Every time I complete one of these projects, it makes me want to up the ante for the next one."



Your sound and approach to music:

I try to write jazz tunes with distinctive and (hopefully) memorable melodies so that people can come away with something more than an appreciation of the musicianship they just heard. I have always liked listening to jazz musicians playing standards because you can really appreciate the creativity of improvisation when you have a clear idea of where the players are starting from. I try to recreate that experience with new music.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

My favorite recording in my discography would have to be the new one: Nyhavn Live. For one thing, it is a live recording, which gives it an organic quality and emotional connection that can't be duplicated in the studio. Secondly, the recording is the result of a considerably greater amount of participation on the part of the musicians in developing the tunes and getting the most of out them. Finally, as my most recent project, it best reflects the evolution of my writing.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

The first jazz album I bought was probably something by Father Tom Vaughn, a Detroit-based Episcopal priest turned jazz musician who played swinging piano jazz in the '60s.

Desert Island picks:

Lyle Mays, Lyle Mays (Warner Jazz);

Brad Mehldau, Elegiac Cycle (Warner Brothers);

Pat Metheny Group, The First Circl ( ECM);

Keith Jarrett, The Köln Concert (ECM);

Bill Bruford's Earthworks, A Part & Yet Apart (Discipline Global Mobile).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

Jazz today is in many ways more vibrant, varied and creative than ever, but is also, unfortunately, a niche taste in a world of multitasking and listening to music on cell phones. It is increasingly difficult to convince people to give ten minutes of their undivided attention to a group of musicians, no matter how brilliant what they are doing may be. Jazz today is truly for the committed.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

Jazz is alive and well in little pockets all over. It is unclear whether or not there is a way to make it more mainstream. As is the case with classical music, jazz is frequently heard as background music in films and television and in restaurants and other public places. But as a music that people actively seek out and immerse themselves in? It speaks to all too few people today. That is why those who love it need to support it all they can.

By Day:

I am a physicist by training but I spend most of my time these days communicating issues related to energy and the environment on the web, on public radio and elsewhere. Jazz for me is a labor of love and a means of creative expression. Bringing my compositions to talented jazz musicians is a unique opportunity to watch their creativity unfold before my eyes.

Photo Credit

Courtesy of Randy Simon Jazz Project


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Take Five with Ryan Slatko Take Five With... Take Five with Ryan Slatko
by Ryan Slatko
Published: November 21, 2017
Read Take Five with Jose Negroni Take Five With... Take Five with Jose Negroni
by Jose Negroni
Published: November 16, 2017
Read Take Five With Sylvia Brooks Take Five With... Take Five With Sylvia Brooks
by Sylvia Brooks
Published: October 1, 2017
Read Take Five with Debora Galan Take Five With... Take Five with Debora Galan
by Debora Galan
Published: September 17, 2017
Read Take Five with Ralph Hepola Take Five With... Take Five with Ralph Hepola
by Ralph Hepola
Published: August 28, 2017
Read Take Five with Dave Potter Take Five With... Take Five with Dave Potter
by David Potter
Published: August 24, 2017
Read "Take Five with Tom Harrison" Take Five With... Take Five with Tom Harrison
by Tom Harrison
Published: December 19, 2016
Read "Take Five with Maurice Brown" Take Five With... Take Five with Maurice Brown
by Maurice Brown
Published: March 16, 2017
Read "Take Five with Ralph Hepola" Take Five With... Take Five with Ralph Hepola
by Ralph Hepola
Published: August 28, 2017
Read "Take Five with Debora Galan" Take Five With... Take Five with Debora Galan
by Debora Galan
Published: September 17, 2017
Read "Take Five with Sergio Pamies" Take Five With... Take Five with Sergio Pamies
by Sergio Pamies
Published: May 31, 2017
Read "Take Five with Julian Hartwell" Take Five With... Take Five with Julian Hartwell
by Julian Hartwell
Published: April 20, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!