Born in Kingston, Jamaica, saxophonist Mark Shim moved to Canada then later settled in Richmond, Virginia. He started on saxophone in seventh grade, graduating from high school in 1991 and attending Virginia Commonwealth University and William Paterson College. In 1994 he moved to Brooklyn, where he played and recorded with Hamiett Bluiett in Harlem. He then played with Mose Allison, Betty Carter, Greg Osby, and the Mingus Big Band.
Shim's debut recording Mind Over Matter (Blue Note, 1998) was followed by New Directions , a young group project, that included Osby, Jason Moran, and Stefon Harris and then his second recording as a leader, the outstanding Turbulent Flow, both released on Blue Note in 2000.