Edward Simon

Simplicitas

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Pianist Edward Simon continues his path as an increasingly important player on the New York City and international scene upon arrival from his native Venezuela. Simplicitas is yet another extraordinary musical statement among the handful of sessions he has created as a leader. His view of simplicity is a broad-based notion manifested in that there are many ways to play jazz-based music. Whether in a deconstructed form, using minimalist, spare chords and phrases, or utilizing themes and motifs that spring from the barest of branches, Simon knows this aspect of the art. Differences arise in the underlying elements of ethnic rhythms, the varied textures from occasional electric and mainly acoustic instruments, and -- in a few scant instances -- the usage of a vocal, steel drums, or very subtle piano nuances. "Infinite One" signifies Simon's ability to stretch lean lines into intricate complex themes, building on bass and piano unison, two-hand chords, a swing/bop bridge, repeat themes, start-stop phrases, and a modal or spiritual stance all in one stunning piece of music. "Not So Unique" has quirky ups and downs on a piece written by vocalist Luciana Souza, but absent her singing. She does appear briefly for the circular "Unknown Path," a short repeat minimalist story with the ringing bass of Avishai Cohen following Simon's left hand and urged on by the electric guitar of Adam Rogers. Embracing Simon's South American roots, the angular and jerky "Fiestas" (in two separate parts) bubbles with the percussion of Pernell Saturnino and steel drums of Adam Cruz. In his most edited moments, the title track is a stripped-down soul ballad, pastoral and very similar to something Abdullah Ibrahim might do. Two takes of the standard "You're My Everything" have Simon very relaxed, confident, and glowing with satisfaction. If you are not familiar with Edward Simon, best get up to speed, for he is as brilliant a technician and resourceful a player as can be heard in contemporary jazz.

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