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.