Chicago born, award winning pianist/composer, Mark Simon, worked with world renowned jazz bassist Leroy Vinnegar for five years. Currently, Mark leads his own quintet featuring his original music. Simon’s music touches the heart and soul, yet has meat on the bones as well. Joining Mark will be Devin Phillips-tenor, Paul Mazzio-trumpet, Chris Higgins-bass, and musical partner of 43 years, Larry Bard-drums. The Camellia Lounge is a perfect place to enjoy this special evening of music!
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.
Simon, a Chicago-born Cub fan, has been playing jazz for over 30 years, starting somewhat inauspiciously 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.
Young Simon soon graduated to jazz sessions, further honing his keyboard skills while beginning to play occasional jazz gigs. He cites high school jazz band director, Don Owens, as an important part of his jazz education. It was the same band that Mark’s brother Fred had earlier played in. Owens went on to become the director of Northwestern University’s jazz program.
From “sitting in” with the JATP, 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”.
Of course, he wasn’t left out of the pop music loop either. His friends came to listen to his jazz records and in exchange exposed Mark to the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Blood Sweat & Tears, The Doors and other rock artists.
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