With Inkling, Simon assembles a group of Portland veterans, all of them long-time collaborators who were hand-picked to present this music: Paul Mazzio, Devin Phillips, Chris Higgins, and Larry Bard. And Simon himself has earned this same status by holding the regular piano chair in bass legend Leroy Vinnegar’s quartet for four years in addition to his own notable work as a leader.
Each of these experienced players brings a special blend of talent and personality to the music, and Simon capitalizes on this with his deft compositions. Like Ellington, “Mark writes with the individual musicians in mind. He finds their strengths as players, but sometimes even writes for their weakness to spur them on to greater heights,” said tenor saxophonist Devin Phillips.
“In life, as well as on the band-stand, sometimes you have no idea what is going to happen next. However, if you have an inkling of an idea, 99 out of 100 times, that is exactly what will happen,” says Mark Simon of the title of his third album as a leader. But its also a guiding principle of his work as an artist. His compositions and playing capture the confidence of his philosophy, as well as a heavy dose of old school swing.
“Mark is one of the more brilliant pianists and composers in the Northwest. His range of work extends from the early years of bebop to the avant-garde; definitely a pianist to watch out for.” - Ron Steen
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 of contemporary jazz.
A Chicago-born Cub fan, Simon has been playing jazz for over 30 years. He started 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.
From “sitting in” with his father’s records, 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”.
Mark has been a Portland resident since 1978, when he came west from Chicago to study jazz at Mount Hood Community College. Since then, he’s played with most of the jazz stalwarts in the Portland area, including Mel Brown, Glen Moore, Nancy King and Ron Steen.
released November 2, 2014
1. Glad Bags
2. Caramel Creek
3. Simon Sez
6. Mr. D.P.
7. Blew Brush Sermons
8. Song For My Grandparents
10. Everything's Copasetic
Mark Simon - Piano, Composer
Paul Mazzio - Trumpet/Flugelhorn
Devin Phillips - Tenor Saxophone
Chris Higgins - Acoustic/Electric Bass
Larry Bard - Drums, Darbuka
PJCE Records is a grassroots recording label documenting the wide variety of original music being created by Portland area
jazz composers and improvisers. We aim to provide an outlet to encourage the dissemination of new music in the area as well as fostering community within the jazz and improvised music scene in Portland. We release one album per month digitally and/or in limited CD pressings....more