Pete Petersen Trio + 1


Hard swPete Petersen Trio +1inging jazz is on the menu at Wilfs Restaurant and Bar Thursday evening, January 14th from 7pm until 10pm.

Superlative saxophonist Pete Petersen has led his trio of sax, bass and drums over recent years with the masterful Ed Bennett on bass and expert craftsman, Tim Rap on the drums.


Over the past several months, inimitable pianist Mark Simon started showing up to performances to add his jazz viewpoint to the mix, giving birth to the “+ 1″ moniker.

You do not want to miss out on hearing this superb combination of Northwest jazz pros.

Thursday, January 14th from 7pm until 10pm
Wilfs Restaurant and Bar
800 NW 6th Ave, Portland, OR 97209


Mark Simon Trio at Wilf’s Restaurant & Bar

Thursday evening, from 7pm until 10pm Mark Simon Trio at Wilf’s Restaurant & Bar

800 NW 6th Ave, Portland, OR 97209, (503) 223-0070

Mark Simon – piano/Ed Bennett – bass/ Tim Rap – drums

Join Mark, Ed and Tim (M.E.T. Trio) for an evening of good swinging jazz with a few surprises. It’s not what you play….it’s how you play it!

the trio.001

CD release Party!

imageDear friends,

The Kickstarter project for my CD release has ended and because of your help, the project was successfully funded. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart! Now I have some exciting news to share with you:

Classic Pianos and Mark Simon cordially invite you to Mark Simon’s Inkling CD Release Concert on Sunday, November 2nd, from 2:00pm until 5:00pm. The party will take place at Classic Piano’s recital room and there is a $10 admission charge. You can purchase tickets at or pay at the door. For those who choose to pay at the door, cash is encouraged, and admission will be collected as you enter the recital room.

There will be a complimentary snack table as well as a merchandise table set up in the back of the room. CDs will be available at the merchandise table at a special release party price of $12. There will be posters for sale also available at the merchandise table. Seating will be on a first come first serve basis. Mark will be happy to meet with you and to sign any items you may want him to.

The Mark Simon Quintet is fast becoming one of Portland’s top jazz groups. The lineup of players is impressive; Paul Mazzio – trumpet/flugelhorn, Devin Phillips – tenor saxophone, Larry Bard – drums, Chris Higgins – bass and composer/bandleader Mark Simon on piano. Each of the band’s members has performance experience with nationally and internationally known jazz artists and have appeared at many jazz festivals and on several recordings.

The brand new “Inkling” CD consists of ten Mark Simon originals that guide you through hard-bop, post-bop, pop and funk landscapes.

Composer/bandleader Mark Simon says “I feel strongly that my music must be heard, not for my personal gain, but for my desire to contribute to society something that is thoughtful, beautiful and has integrity. If you want cerebral jazz with no heart, this is not for you. My music aims to touch hearts and souls, yet has enough meat on the bones to stimulate the mind as well.”

Classic Pianos Recital Hall
3003 SE Milwaukie Ave (@ the corner of SE Powell Blvd.)
United States

For inquiries, please contact Mark at

Tune Title Insights

By reading this blog post, you will learn a little something about how I name my tunes. Below, I write about how I came up with names for each of my ten compositions that are featured on a quintet recording which I would like to release in the near future. I need help to pay for this CD release, and my fundraising campaign ends on October 16th. Please follow this link to learn more about my CD project and consider pitching in to help make it available to music lovers everywhere.

  1. Glad Bags – No, I am not talking about the plastic bags you put a sandwich (or other stuff) into. Milt Jackson, the legendary jazz vibraphonist whose style I admire greatly, was nicknamed Bags. When I composed this once title-less tune, it sounded to me like the kind of tune Milt Jackson would sound especially great on. In my imagination, if I were born about 20 years earlier, Bags and I would be playing this tune together, and he would have been glad I composed this tribute to him. Thus the title … Glad Bags.
  2. Caramel Creek – At one time, many moons ago, I had a music student complain that he was bored with my Major Scale Improvisation Exercise. After several unsuccessful attempts to inspire my student to explore within the boundaries of the major scale, I decided to compose a tune for my student that used only notes found in the major scale. This tune had a “sweet” flavor. Just like the the chocolate river in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, I figured there must also be a Caramel Creek. I decided to name my “sweet” tune Caramel Creek.
  3. Simon Sez – Everybody knows how to play Simon Says, so naturally it is one of my favorite games! This composition features segments that alternate feels and grooves. There are times in the composition when you expect the groove to change, yet it doesn’t. This is because Simon did not say so. The spelling Simon Sez is based on the way I pronounce Simon Says.
  4. Taxometer – Just like the tax man who reaches in your pocket and deducts a portion of your earnings, this tune employs a tax on the number of beats per measure. The tune has four beats in each measure, except for every group of 16 beats (four measures) the taxman swoops in and takes away one beat leaving us with only 15 beats. A Taxometer is my imaginary device that counts the number of beats in the musical meter and then applies a tax automatically. For the musicians reading this, you could say this tune is in 15/4 or 4 + 4 + 4 + 3.
  5. Escapade – This is one of the rare tunes where I came up with the title before the musical composition. I challenged myself to write something adventurous. Something exciting and daring. I composed a musical Escapade!
  6. Mr. D.P. – Just as jazz giant John Coltrane wrote a piece for his bassist Paul Chambers (Mr. P.C.), I decided to write a tune for my quintet’s stellar tenor saxophonist Devin Phillips. There really is nothing about this tune that indicates any sort of connection to Devin and his style, however I named this composition Mr. D.P. as show of appreciation for Devin’s musical soul and achievements.
  7. Blew Brush Sermons – Over the years I have spent in Portland, I have been fortunate enough to have played countless gigs with local drum legend Mel Brown, the godfather of Portland jazz. One of the aspects of Mel’s drumming I admire the most is the way he uses his brushes. Just as Mel does when he uses sticks, when Mel solos with the brushes, he often chooses to play the actual melody of the composition during the first chorus. It is very lyrical and you can definitely hear the tune as he plays. He spells things out so clearly that it sounds like he is delivering a musical sermon. Amazingly, “Blew Brush Sermons” happens to be a perfect anagram for “Mel Brown’s Brushes”. My composition calls for my quintet’s drummer Larry Bard to use brushes and to play the melody of the tune during his first chorus of solo as a tribute to Mel.
  8. Song For My Grandparents – At first, I wrote this tune specifically for my paternal grandfather upon his passing. My grandmother passed very soon afterward. Grampa was an amazing artist (oil, pencil, lithography, photography, political cartoon, etc.). He was employed by the W.P.A. and his artwork helped my grandparents to survive the depression. Grandpa’s art had a lot of soul. My grandmother stood by him thick and thin. She too was indeed a very soulful person. Even though they were both jewish, my composition is written in a gospelish style in order to reflect how I admired their soulfulness, their down to earth values, their loving and caring ways, and their integrity. I performed this composition at my grandparent’s memorial.
  9. Inkling – Inkling, like most of my compositions, remained nameless during the development stages. Often when I performed this nameless tune, I became lost in the quirky form laid out in the composition. This forced me to make an educated guess as to where I was in the form. I discovered that when I got a feeling, an inkling, a slight notion of what was supposed to happen next, 99 out of 100 times that is exactly what happened. I learned to trust my Inkling.
  10. Everything’s Copasetic – I composed this piece of music when I was requested to write a theme song for a cable television show of the same name in the 1980s. As the name implies, I attempted to create a piece of music that sounded happy, care-free, satisfied and content. I hope you agree I achieved that result.

Remember that you can help make my CD a reality by visiting:

Kickstarter Launch Announcement

Dear members of the Mark Simon Music family,

I am very happy to announce that you can help me to release my next CD featuring the Mark Simon Quintet!

The CD is named Inkling and features ten of my original compositions. The music will take you on a musical tour of many different feels and grooves. An exploration of the full spectrum of jazz through the lens of your’s truly.

Click here to learn more about this CD project and you will have the opportunity to donate towards it and earn wonderful rewards!

If you are excited about the project, please share the link with your family and friends!

Camellia Lounge Gig

MSQ_PortraitPoster_Camellia09_06_14Come check out our next Quintet gig at the Camellia Lounge on September 6th.

Mark Simon Quintet (MSQ) – The Tea Zone & Camellia Lounge
510 NW 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97209, (503) 221-2130, 8:00pm-10:30pm, Cover $10
Devin Phillips -tenor sax | Paul Mazzio – trumpet | Mark Simon – piano | Larry Bard – drums | Chris Higgins – bass
Great intimate atmosphere, tasty and affordable menu, unique adult beverages, over-all a great environment to enjoy a live performance by the Mark Simon Quintet!
Purchase Tickets through Brown Paper Tickets  –  or please call the Camellia Lounge to make reservations at (503) 221-2130

Getting Started at the Piano

Mark Simon and his brother Fred, at the piano

My brother Fred is six years older than me. He had a gift for music that was obvious from an early age. About the time that I was six years of age, 12-year old Fred would not only thoroughly practice his piano lesson, he would also play original compositions and improvisations. Even at this early age, Fred’s music had intent and a decisive direction.

My Big Brother, Fred

Fred was not allowed to practice the piano until homework and chores were completed. I, being only six, was carted off to bed just about the same time my brother started practicing and playing. My folks were serious about bedtime, so they would come back to my room about 20 minutes after tucking me in to confirm that I was sleeping. It is quite a simple matter for a kid to make his parents think he is asleep! As long as Fred was playing the piano, I was not going to sleep. Even when he was done practicing, I would turn on the transistor radio beneath my pillow and listen to more music, or perhaps a Cubs, Bulls or Blackhawks game (depending on the time of year).

When Fred played his compositions and improvised during the daytime, I would stand behind him and study his fingers. He did not enjoy that, probably because he felt it would be better for me to make my own discoveries at the keyboard. So my solution was to hide around the corner, stick out my head and sneak a peek at his fingers on the keyboard. That way I could associate what I was hearing with how my hands should look on the keyboard. When Fred would leave the house, I would mimic what I heard and saw my older brother do. This led to me finding my very own compositions and improvisations.

At the age of seven, I had a friend who showed me some basic melodies on the piano. I could play the six or seven simple tunes he showed me; however, it was Fred who set the musical and pianistic standard for me to attempt to uphold. So I was playing, composing and improvising at the age of eight, eighteen months before my first piano lesson.

My parents felt that children were not mature enough to take full advantage of piano instruction until they were 10 years old. My brother Fred started lessons at 10. My dear, departed sister Deb started her lessons at 10. I instigated negotiations with my parents a little before my ninth birthday. They were serious about not letting me start until 10, but I offered to do extra chores around the house in exchange for an early start at the piano. (Perhaps I missed my calling – my parents felt I would make a fine lawyer based on this experience.) They agreed to my proposition, and after six months of doing extra chores, I started lessons at the age of nine and a half.