Self-possessed, soft spoken, and professorial, Venezuelan-born pianist, composer, and bandleader Edward Simon radiates quiet intensity. He’s not so much a musical radical as a persistent explorer who has spent his career expanding jazz’s frontiers as part of a wave of conservatory-trained Latin American musicians immersed in jazz, the European classical tradition, and various manifestations of folkloric and popular music. In a series of conversations that started on a rehearsal break for the SFJAZZ Collective, the all-star ensemble in which Simon is now the longest serving member, he talked about his musical path and his increasing opportunities to explore the full range of his creative interests.
Beyond his work with the Collective, which plunged into the seminal 1969 funk and fusion of Sly Stone’s Stand! and Miles Davis’s In a Silent Way this season, Simon teaches at the San Francisco Conservatory in the recently founded Roots, Jazz and American Music program. He just signed on with the Bay Area nonprofit Ridgeway Arts as associate artistic director, working with bassist, composer, and California Jazz Conservatory Dean of Instruction Jeff Denson to curate the Ridgeway Arts Presents concert series. Ridgeway Records is also releasing Edward Simon 25 in May 2020, a retrospective of his quarter-century career as a recording artist, and a live solo album in 2021.
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