Simon Purcell is probably best known as Head of Jazz at Trinity-Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and member of the Pop and Jazz Steering Group for the Association of European Conservatoires.
Since the mid 1980s, Simon has performed both as leader and sideman, appearing with amongst others – Red Rodney, Kenny Wheeler, Eddie Henderson, Stan Sulzman, Jean Toussaint and Julian Arguelles. His current quintet features Julian Siegel, Chris Batchelor and Gene Calderazzo. From a musical family. His parents were classical musicians, his father having performed with a number of London Orchestras, while his grandfather, clarinettist Paddy Purcell, was a listed in Who’s Who as a member of Henry Wood’s Orchestra during the 1920s.
He began playing the French horn at 8, and received a thorough classical musical education at school, playing in orchestras, wind-bands, singing in a chapel choir, learning a discipline that he has come to value.
In his teens, Simon fumbled through boogie-woogie and various attempts at jazz as relief from hours of long notes on the French-horn, and by the time he left Trinity College of Music in 1980, he was dividing his time between classical music and jazz (only having received instruction in the former).
While at college of Music, Simon formed a band with saxophonist Martin Speake, mainly playing bebop, and later jazz-fusion in the group This Side Up. However, the first project to attract attention in London, and later on BBC radio, was Jazz Train, a hard-bop sextet featuring vocalist Cleveland Watkiss (and later, Anita Wardell) alongside many and various emerging musicians of the day including Mike Mower, Mark Lockheart, Steve Sidwell, Dale Barlow, Iain Ballamy, Julian Arguelles, Leigh Etherington, Mike Williams, Mick Hutton, Arnie Somogyi, Mark Taylor and Gene Calderazzo.