Mark Simon Mark Simon

Mark Simon couples jazz experience with a myriad of jazz influences to create a style of playing and writing that offers a mature outlook while pushing his work out to the edge.

Simon, a Chicago-born Cub fan, has been playing jazz for over 30 years, starting somewhat inauspiciously by playing along with old Jazz At The Philharmonic records from his father’s massive and eclectic record collection, which ran the gamut from early jazz master Louis Armstrong to avant-garde Cecil Taylor. By 13, Mark was listening to Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Roy Eldridge and other jazz legends while his school chums were gearing up to Led Zeppelin.

Young Simon soon graduated to jazz sessions, further honing his keyboard skills while beginning to play occasional jazz gigs. He cites high school jazz band director, Don Owens, as an important part of his jazz education. It was the same band that Mark’s brother Fred had earlier played in. Owens went on to become the director of Northwestern University’s jazz program.

From “sitting in” with the JATP, he enrolled in a youth summer jazz camp at the University of Illinois, where he was exposed to the live side of jazz. Mark would sneak out of the dorm at night to sit in with the faculty on jam sessions, providing him with a sense of excitement in playing that he’s never lost. “The faculty would have these all-night jams and I was the only student invited to sit in. It was an awesome and valuable experience and it gave me a real foundation in jazz”.

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“A regular with Leroy Vinnegar’s trio, Simon branches out on his own with a sophisticated, lyrical album called “Portland Nights.” Paul Mazzio’s fluid flugelhorn and trumpet lines highlight Simon’s lovely compositional sense, while the Dave Captein/Gary Hobbs rhythm section adds a sensitive spark.” - Marty Hughley - The Oregonian

“Local piano virtuoso Mark Simon sent me his debut CD Portland Nights and it’s a superior effort. Mark composed and arranged all eight songs and utilized the talents of popular sidemen well-known to this area. Although each song is superb, my favorites are Hometown Blues, Sunday Rain and Portland Nights.” - Bonnie Carter - Positively Entertainment

“Mark is an eloquent and energetic player and composer in the bebop tradition

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Albums by Mark Simon

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