Jul 2, 2018
When I last spoke with Edward Simon, he was on the road with the SFJazz Collective, and was stopping near me in Amherst, Massachusetts. Simon, a native of Venezuela who has become a first call pianist and a bandleader in his own right, has gone on since then to be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an NAACP Image Award for his Latin American Songbook. His growth as a composer, performer and leader is clear in his latest release, Sorrows & Triumphs.
The new CD allows Simon to make a number of different stylistic choices, with the constant the musical partners of his quartet Afinidad, composed of David Binney (alto sax); Scott Colley (bass) and Brian Blade (drummer). These tremendous musicians, all bandleaders themselves, make harmonically challenging, yet lush and melodic music from Simon’s compositions, which take the form of two works commissioned by Chamber Music of America’s New Jazz Works program. What separates Sorrows & Triumphs from his previous releases are the contributions of his guests, from singer Gretchen Parlato to guitarist Adam Rogers to the chamber quintet Imani Winds. The result transcends label or category.
Simon is still the anchor of the rhythm section of the SFJazz Collective, which is finishing off its latest CD before a European tour this fall. The group continues to evolve, and the latest lineup includes Miguel Zenon and David Sanchez (sax), Etienne Charles (trumpet), Robin Eubanks (trombone), Warren Wolf (vibes), Matt Brewer (bass) and Obed Calvaire (drums).
Podcast 625 is my conversation with Edward, as we discuss the new CD, the SFJazz Collective's new season - in which they will take on the work of Antonio Carlos Jobim - and his plans for his next projects. Musical selections from Sorrows & Triumphs include "Triumphs", "Venezuela Unida" and"Chant".