Contact: Ann Braithwaite
Internationally acclaimed pianist/composer Edward Simon joins Ridgeway Arts
Simon will serve as Associate Artistic Director and release albums on Ridgeway Records
The non-profit Bay-area Ridgeway Arts is brainchild of world renowned jazz bassist/composer/ educator/community activist Jeff Denson
Ridgeway Arts, Inc. the Bay-area nonprofit run by world renowned bassist/composer/educator/ community activist Jeff Denson, has named acclaimed Venezuelan pianist/composer Edward Simon as Associate Artistic Director. In this new role, Simon will work with Denson to curate the Ridgeway Arts Presents concert series. Ridgeway Records will also release Simon’s recordings including Edward Simon 25, a retrospective of his 25-year-career as a recording artist in May 2020 and a Solo Live album in 2021.
“I look forward to collaborating with Edward Simon as the new Associate Artistic Director of Ridgeway Arts,” says Ridgeway founder Jeff Denson. “Edward is an exceptional artist, and I’m excited to see what we can come up with together!”
Simon agrees. “I’m ecstatic about the potential collaborations and projects that will come about as a result of my new role at Ridgeway Arts. I view this as an excellent opportunity to bring forth my vision as a recording artist, performer, producer and educator and I look forward to working with Jeff Denson and Ridgeway’s outstanding team to build upon their significant accomplishments to date.”
A multi-faceted San Francisco Bay Area-based non-profit, Ridgeway Arts, Inc. enhances and fortifies the Bay Area scene, and makes a strong contribution to the national landscape of jazz and the arts in general through educational and community outreach initiatives, concert presentations, and the release of exceptional recordings from established masters on Ridgeway Records and up-and-coming artists via Ridgeway Rising Stars. Since its founding in WHAT MONTH? 2016, the organization has presented some ## concerts and educational workshops by internationally acclaimed artists such as Vadim Neselovskyi, Brian Blade, Kari Ikonen, Romain Pilon and more in Bay-area clubs, released 14 albums on Ridgeway Records and interviewed numerous artists for the On the Scene SF/O podcast on Ridgeway Radio.
“The arts are fundamental to our humanity,” says Ridgeway founder and artistic director Jeff Denson. “They ennoble and inspire us — fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. The arts help us express our values, build bridges between cultures, and bring us together regardless of ethnicity, religion, or age.”
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.
In 2019, Simon celebrates 30 years in the music industry. Throughout his illustrious career, Simon has collaborated with some of the most prominent jazz artists today including vocalists Lucian Souza, Gretchen Parlato and the acclaimed chamber ensemble Imani Winds. Edward Simon 25 offers an overview and an entryway into Simon’s broad and multi-layered work as pianist and composer. The 2-CD set compiles tracks from his complete discography as a leader and co-leader spanning over 25 years. Included are selections from his acclaimed and influential recordings such as the New York Times Top Ten quartet album Edward Simon with Mark Turner, Adam Cruz and Larry Grenadier; the cutting-edge and Latin-infused La Bikina, the chamber-esque Venezuelan Suite, and Afinidad, the latter featuring his long-running virtuoso quartet with David Binney, Scott Colley, and Brian Blade. Also highlighted are his recent trio work with Adam Cruz and Joe Martin, and his all-star trio featuring John Patitucci and Brian Blade. The collection is rounded out with detailed liner notes by jazz journalist Ted Panken and quotes from Simon himself, as well as some of his closest collaborators, offering insights into his work from the artists’ perspective. Most tracks will be remastered for an excellent and improved listening experience. A special double-album vinyl edition will be produced for vinyl lovers. Essentially, this compilation offers a great way to experience Simon’s music, it is a must-have for Simon fans and the perfect introduction for those not yet familiar with his elegant and sophisticated music and playing.
Internationally renowned bassist, vocalist, composer, and educator Jeff Denson was born on December 20, 1976 in Arlington, Virginia, and grew up in the Washington, DC area. He began playing alto saxophone in the third grade, switching in high school to bass and vocals. He studied at Virginia Commonwealth University and Northern Virginia Community College, all the while freelancing heavily on the DC jazz scene, before transferring to Boston’s Berklee College of Music to complete his degree. At Berklee, Denson co-founded the trio Minsarah, touring and recording with the band for fifteen years and becoming the accompanist for the legendary saxophonist Lee Konitz for over twelve years. In the meantime, Denson completed a master’s degree at Florida State University and a DMA at the University of California at San Diego.
Denson relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2011 to become a professor at the California Jazz Conservatory where he now serves at Dean of Instruction. He released his first solo project, Secret World, in 2012 and has earned wide critical acclaim for his performances and recordings. DownBeat Magazine has cited Denson’s “considerable gifts as an improviser, interpreter and sonic trailblazer…” earning him a spot on the DownBeat International Critics Poll. Germany’s Jazz Podium Magazine noted that “Denson is breaking new ground…(he is) one of the leading bassists of contemporary jazz.” Denson has released fourteen albums as a leader or co-leader and performs in some 60 concerts annually with his own groups as well as with the San Francisco String Trio (Denson, guitarist Mimi Fox and violinist Mads Tolling), among others. Denson’s most recent recordings are Jeff Denson Live out in May 2019, and Between Two Worlds a three-way meeting of the minds with guitarist Romain Pilon and drummer Brian Blade out in October 2019.