After leaving his native Chicago to experience the excellent music department at Mt. Hood Community College, Mark Simon decided Portland was the right place for him, musically and otherwise. That was in the 1980s, and Simon has established himself as a solid performer in the Rose City ever since. For this new CD, he chose a concept that I don’t recall ever having seen: an entire menu of songs played as duos with, count ‘em, ten of Portland’s all-star bassists. Since there are 12 tunes, two of the bass players get two tunes, and eight others are heard on one each. Hence the title. More importantly, it’s a very happening, recital-like performance, as one experiences Simon oh-so-comfortably interpreting standards and jazz classics with ten like-minded pals. The tunes range from oldies such as “Avalon” and “If I Had You” to jazz choices such as “Four Brothers,” “A Child Is Born” and “Sonora,” a lesser known gem from one of Simon’s piano gods, Hampton Hawes. In addition, there’s “Alone Together”, “Dindi,” “Stella By Starlight” and a Cy Coleman rarity called “Why Try to Change Me Now.” These and others result in a nicely conceived and beautifully performed CD. Mark is currently battling liver failure, and his many friends wish him blessings as he courageously waits for the phone call which would provide a liver transplant. Despite his medical needs, Simon has provided a wonderful, new CD to savor.
Tracks: Alone Together, If I Had You, Dindi, Four Brothers, Stella By Starlight, A Child Is Born, Soft Winds, The Summer Knows, Sonora, Why Try To Change Me Now, Avalon, This Old Man.
- George Fendel, Jazzscene, Oregons Jazz Magazine