“rich-textured, musically adventurous” – Wall Street Journal
Jazz Saxophonist & composer Ralph Simon‘s Postcards Records album release as a leader, entitled Ralph Simon: As, features an ensemble of like-minded players who also leave their musical imprint on this collection of vivid and challenging compositions. The result is an invigorating mix of straight-ahead tunes and more unusual pieces, including the first recording of the song Skin on Skin, written by the great composer /vocalist Annette Peacock.
“… Finally Simon’s second album arrived . . . his tenor and soprano, with rich and deep tones, vibrate though
the transparent space . . . a very serious music, remarkably rich and colorful.” – Swing Journal (Japan)
Besides the stellar musicianship of Simon, the album also features Jazz drummer Billy Hart and the last recorded performances of the late great pianist Gene Adler. As both an example Simon’s musical revelations and as a historic documentation of the creativity of this ensemble of renowned musicians, the album Ralph Simon: As stands as a testament to the inventive spirit of Jazz music.
Simon stated “I wanted to memorialize the pianist, my friend Gene Adler, who died in 1992, and to try to allow him some of the recognition he never got in this life. Big music and big fun were everything Gene was about — just listen to his playing on this disc.” The ensemble of musicians Simon chose for this recording includes not only Adler but also Jeff Berman (vibes), Tom Beyer (percussion), David Dunaway (bass), Billy Hart (drums), Marc Johnson (bass), Dan Rose (guitar), and Chip White (drums).
“These players were able to leave their musical imprint on a group of vivid compositions which set up and explore an area that is extraordinarily wide, as well as deep, for improvising,” notes Simon. The result is a heady mix of straight-ahead and more unusual pieces, with something for every refined jazz palate.
AS features three compositions by Simon (“Kalimba,” “Gepetto,” and “Julie and Julius”) and one by vibraphonist Jeff Berman (“Promise”), in addition to Annette Peacock’s “Skin on Skin.” “My deep thanks go to each and every player on this disc,” says Simon, “for they really gave so much of themselves to our music.”
|Ralph Simon – tenor, soprano, and alto saxophone
Gene Adler – piano and kalimba
Jeff Berman – vibraphone
Tom Beyer – percussion
David Dunaway – bass
Marc Johnson – bass
Dan Rose – guitar
Chip White – drums
Billy Hart – drums
About Ralph Simon
For Ralph Simon, saxophonist, composer, and cofounder of Postcards, Inc., the 1994 release of AS, his second recording as a leader, was meaningful for several reasons. “On a musical level,” he says, “the group’s spirit and inspiration are incredibly strong and the music sounds as fresh as it did when we recorded it. I also thought it was important to allow people to hear our world debut performance and recording of Annette Peacock’s very beautiful ‘Skin on Skin’.
Born in New York City, Simon studied music at The Johns Hopkins University and at the Peabody Conservatory. His teachers included Joe Napoleon, Lee Konitz, and Sam Rivers. “Playing with such great musicians as Paul Bley, John Scofield, Billy Hart, Karl Berger, Gunter Hampel, Sunny Murray, Mario Pavone, Jeanne Lee, Gene Adler and Chip White in the 70’s,” notes Simon, “was particularly inspiring and stimulating for me.”
It was legendary pianist Paul Bley who inspired Simon to begin composing. He later played piano on Time Being, Simon’s 1981 debut album (Gramavision), which Jazz Hot hailed as “a harmonious musical success which one doesn’t tire of listening to”. Simon also credits his experience with Bley while he was founding the IAI label with sparking his own interest in creating a jazz label — which he did in 1993 with Postcards, Inc.
The early 1980’s found Simon playing saxophone in Europe. After his return to New York, he focused on developing his compositional side. “I began to hear music for larger ensembles than the usual jazz quartet or quintet,” he explains. “I had begun to develop my own applications of modern orchestration and counterpoint.” His efforts and creativity were rewarded in 1991 with a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts.