By Suzanne Lorge | Published November 2020
During Edward Simon’s lengthy career, his profile as a go-to sideman rose with gigs for heavy-hitters like Terence Blanchard. His own 13-disc catalog as a leader has received less attention, but 25 Years works to correct the lapse. For the pianist’s elegant two-disc retrospective, he gathered 17 carefully constructed pieces (five are covers) that speak to the fascinations of Simon’s upbringing—the beats of Venezuela, where he was born, the rigors of classical training and the jazz idioms of the States. The first disc, featuring mostly small ensembles, introduces several of Simon’s concepts, including his fleet, angular soloing against thrashing congas on “Fiestas.” It’s on the second disc, through large ensemble works, that Simon unveils the breadth of his vision. A suite tenders a mellifluous symphonic theme on “Uninvited Thoughts” and a ferocious harp solo recommends “Barinas,” a lesson in how to pack 25 years of excellence into nine minutes.
25 Years: Disc One: Ericka; Alma Llanera (Pt. 2); Govinda; Fiestas; Simplicity; Pathless Path; Pere; Impossible Question. Disc Two: What If?; Aguantando; Caballo Viejo; Barinas; Uninvited Thoughts; Navigator; Gracias A La Vida; Venezuela Unida; Triumphs. (60:20/69:13)
Personnel: Ed Simon, keyboards; David Binney, Miguel Zenón, alto saxophone; David Sanchez, Mark Turner, tenor saxophone; Shane Endsley, Sean Jones, trumpet; Warren Wolf, vibraphone; Mark Dover, clarinet; John Ellis, bass clarinet; Valery Coleman, Marco Granados, flute; Robin Eubanks, Alan Ferber, Jesse Newman, trombone; Adam Rogers, guitar; Monica Ellis, bassoon; Jeff Scott, French horn; Toyin Spellman-Diaz, oboe; Edmar Castaneda, harp; Jorge Glem, cuatro; Genevieve Artadi, Gretchen Parlato, Lucia Pulido, Luciana Souza, vocals; Avishai Cohen, Scott Colley, Larry Grenadier, Roberto Koch, Joe Martin, Matt Penman, John Patitucci, Ben Street, bass; Rogerio Boccato, Luis Quintero, Pernell Saturnino, Leonardo Granados, percussion; Adam Cruz, drums, percussion; Brian Blade, Obed Calvaire, Eric Harland, drums.