One of the strongest pianist of his generation, with intuitive empathy and drum-like ingenuity, and solos compositionally with passionate elegance.”

— Ted Panken, DownBeat

Short Bio

Edward Simon, a native of Venezuela, has made a name for himself over decades in America as a jazz improviser, composer-arranger, band leader and educator. DownBeat has called him “one of the strongest pianists of his generation, with intuitive empathy and drum-like ingenuity,” while Jazz Journal International has singled out “his deep emotional statements” as a composer and improviser. 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; the album was declared “unmissable” in Nate Chinen’s Take Five column on WBGO.org, and the pianist was featured in an extensive DownBeat interview upon the disc’s release. This follows Simon’s 2016 album Latin American Songbook, which won him an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album; a four-and-a-half-star DownBeat review also praised his fresh vision of classic Latin American songs as “grand and sophisticated.” 

Another key release for Simon was his 2014 Sunnyside album Venezuelan Suite, which saw the pianist blend the tuneful, buoyant sounds of his native country with the harmonically sophisticated, forward-looking manner of jazz. All About Jazz marveled: “Venezuelan Suite… is the perfect confluence of Venezuelan ideals, jazz language and chamber-esque sophistication. In short, it’s a masterpiece.” One of Simon’s most recent collaborative projects is the trio Steel House, with the pianist joined by bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade for a group that blends acoustic jazz improvisation with electronic-tinged atmospherics for an inviting, song-oriented sound. This virtuoso trio has performed at top venues across the country, with L.A. Weekly saying: “All-star bands can be a hit-and-miss prospect, but Steel House exceeds expectations… These extraordinary instrumentalists convert their shared histories into poetic, genre-leaping music.” The group presented its debut album, Steel House, via ArtistShare in 2017. Simon is on the faculty of the Roots, Jazz & American Music program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and he has also served on the faculties of the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, City College of New York and University of the Arts.



Read the complete biography.

High-res photos

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High res. promo photo Photo credit: Scott Chernis 9.45 MB
High res. promo photo 2 Photo credits: Scott Chernis 10.2 MB
Electronic Press Kit Includes: bio, press quotes and high res. photos. 24.8 MB
Long Bio Complete biography. (PDF) 122 KB
Short Bio Short biography (3 1/2 pages). PDF 89.7 KB

Video

Press quotes

"Simon's music—whether it's a complex chart like the episodic and dramatically expansive "Intention" or the spare melancholy of "My Love For You," a solo piano piece that bookends Poesia with two different takes—has always been emotionally deep. With the at once challenging and beautiful Poesia, he has once again delivered an album that deserves a spot as one of the best piano trio records of the year."

-John Kelman, AllAboutJazz.com

"[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."

-Thomas Conrad, Jazztimes

Edward Simon is worth experiencing. With a very down home style and attitude, he exudes humility that is rare this [sic] days. Real people, with real talent!

-Latin Beat Magazine

[Poesía] A majestic trio record, with “Giant Steps” the most enthralling of many highspots.

-Tony Hall, Jazzwise

"Mr. Simon's touch, light and warm, allows for his music to drift calmly, taking its time to get to where it has to go."

-The New York Times

"He doesn't go in for dazzle and fleet-fingered runs but contents himself with digging in and mining the music for drama and invention. He often turns these rural sounds into deep emotional statements."

-Jazz Journal International

"Simon is an important presence on the jazz and world music scene."

-Los Angeles Times

Awards & Honors

NAACP Image Awards, Outstanding Jazz Album, 2017

Chamber Music America New Jazz Works, 2014

Doris Duke Award Nominee, 2014

MacDowell Fellowship, 2011

Guggenheim Fellowship, 2010

New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Music Composition, 2008

Chamber Music America, New Jazz Works, 2008

Fulbright Senior Specialist, The J. William Fulbright Scholarship Board, 2008

Unicity, Voted Best Album, DownBeat, 2007

State of Florida Music Composition Fellowship, 2007

New York Times Top Ten Jazz Records of the Year, 2005 | 1995

Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship in Jazz Composition, 2005

Chamber Music America, New Works: Creation and Presentation, 2004

Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition finalist, 1994

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