The Mark Simon
Mark Simon- Piano
Leah Hinchcliff- Acoustic Bass
Dave Averre- Drums
Mark is a solid jazz player with a strong affinity for Soul Jazz, and a
powerful imagination. He calls this his premium trio, and the
one he’s the proudest of.
To quote one of the best pianists in the world,
“I’ve heard Mark Simon from time to time over the
years, and I am struck by how he’s grown into such a poised
and mature musician.”
- Dave Frishberg, Grammy award-winning Pianist and Composer
From Mark’s website- www.marksimonmusic.com.
Leah has made her mark as a powerful player on both electric and
acoustic bass. She is exceptional in her role as the bassist
for Soul Vaccination. She also writes, arranges and provides
private lessons. Dave is a very subtle and aware accompanist
and a solid soloist. He is the go to guy, and has recorded
and played with Tall Jazz, and many national and international artists,
all over the world. He has a cool bio at
Most readers will be aware of the great jazz venue, Wilf’s
and their consistent support of jazz music. The food is very
good, and the drinks are always done right. The grand piano
is one of the few among our jazz venues, and the curved brick
performance space is one of the nicest we have, and you can depend on a
great schedule of jazz. Check out their website at
Mark’s original compositions are always interesting,
welcoming and warm. His arrangements of the jazz repertoire
and his excellent solo chops always make me glad I’ve made it
when I attend his club dates.
He started the first set with an original, which he said was
‘What They Say’, a deep slow blues. Nice
chemistry between the players. Mark had told me in his
invitation that this trio rehearses weekly whether or not they have a
gig, and the work has paid off.
The beautiful intro to the next song was in a calypso beat, and soon
the theme was evident, ‘Make Someone
Happy’! One of the marks of a strong piano player
is the power of unison lines, one from each hand. Mark used
these to state the theme, then stepped aside for the first solo, by
Dave. Extremely subtle course in calypso beat. One
thing both Mark and Dave share is the ability to leave space between
notes. This allows the emotion and purpose of a phrase and
the whole song to come through.
Next was another original called ‘Caramel
Creek’. Intro was infused with a slightly
melancholy feel, with a few blue notes. The melody line, though
pensive, was very warm and sweet. Beautiful accompaniment on
Dave’s part, with brushes . The theme was warm and
uplifting, like nearly all of Mark’s originals.
Even romantic, one would have to say. The song came in three
movements, and the middle section involved very large spaces, counted
out by Mark, as the others waited, allowing a tension to build,
signifying some emotion hanging in the air from the first
movement. Slowly Dave brought back the rhythm, and was joined
quietly by Leah on bass, and the Them was back them a short out-tro.
Next was the Hank Mobley tune, ‘This I Dig of
You’. I sense an attachment in Mark to the East
coast style of jazz, and here it is explored with strong
devotion. Dave Averre is just elegant.
Next piece was ‘Bohemia After Dark”.
There is a strong sense of the Soul Jazz Philly root here.
Very Bluesy, too. Mark is also rooted in a deep elegance, not
much for flash or pyrotechnics, just style and subtlety, lots of
dynamics, sauce and sexiness.
On the wonderful standard, ‘This Will Be My Shining
Hour’, Mark’s intro is strikingly beautiful, and
his thematic statement was sparse, leaving a bunch of space for the
band sound to come through. Wonderful!
Next is the original by Mark, ‘Glad Bags’,
dedicated to who else, but Milt Jackson; a very soulful tribute,
indeed. Then we get another Simon original, ‘Simon
Says’. The most assertive composition
I’ve heard by Mark. I keep missing a larger band
when I hear it. Where is the tenor sax soloist, the trombone
section? Oh, well, I guess I need to be patient.
At the break, Karla Harris showed up. I have heard her sing
with his exceptional accompaniment before, and I knew we were likely in
for a treat!
Sure enough, after the short break and a couple warm up pieces,
‘Yardbird Suite’ (in Calypso!), and the original
‘Song for My Grandparents’, which was in mixed
tempo’s, here comes Kalra with the Bill Withers tune,
‘Somebody To Lean On’. This was easily
the best arranging I’ve ever heard from Mark, and it was a
show stopper! Karla is a strong singer, and a shooting star
at this point. I have watched her very assertive rise over
the last few years, and I will try not to miss her gigs from now on!
I had to leave and miss the rest of this gig, but I know it was
great. I have a strange early morning schedule, so the early
start time of 7:30 helps a lot.