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Artist Profile: Martin Simon and Astro Project

Since forming a writing team with half Spanish, half Honduran composer and guitarist Astor Escoto in New York City over a decade ago, Martin Simon has been more extensively integrating Latin American and Spanish influences with East European folk, classical music and modern jazz.

The duo earned accolades from press for its great chemistry with the release of their compilation album Collage described by Muzik Reviews as “one of the best contemporary world guitar albums of the decade.”

The resultant compilation album titled Collage includes guitar solos and duets ranging from traditional to contemporary styles performed by the two composers with Astor Escoto playing classical guitar and Martin Simon on classical, acoustic and electric guitars, guitar synth, and vocalizations.

The product is evocative of Canadian acoustic guitar virtuoso Don Ross mixed with the playful experimentation of upright bassist (and multi-instrumentalist) George Koller for what translates to a timeless, brain-massaging, thought-provoking collection of airy musical ruminations with world-class production.

martin simon and astro project

Born in Slovakia, Simon formed his first electric jazz-rock fusion band “Jazzva” in mid ’90s and was a recepient of the “New Faces of Slovak Jazz” 1st place national award for original compositions. He was the featured artist of the Slovak Radio’s longest-running jazz series “Jazz under Pyramid.”

After moving to USA in late ’90s, he studied composition with Tania Leon in New York and completed graduate degrees in composition, performace and interactive media arts at Brooklyn College. He served as a visiting assistant professor at Pratt Institute in New York. His work about collective improvisation has been published by the University Press of America.

Simon has played with David Watson (John Zorn!), Paul Steven Ray (Vernon Reid, Cyro Baptista), Salim Washington (Kenny Garret, Anthony Braxton), Chris Bacas (Buddy Rich), Jorge Amorim (Baden Powell, Al Foster), Arturo Martinez (Jose Greco), Alfonso Cid (Pilar Rioja), Carlos Hayre, Michal Urbaniak, Wojciech Karolak, The New York Mandolin Orchestra, BC Electro-acoustic Music Ensemble, among others.

He was a founding member of the freely improvising open collective ConversClub and the chamber ensemble BTY Orchestra and was later invited to the ISIM International Conference on Improvised Music in Chicago to premiere his “conversational music” along with improvisers like Oliver Lake, Art Lande, Mazen Kerbaj, Stephen Nachmanovitch, Pauline Oliveros, Anto Pett, Mark Dresser, Jane Ira Bloom, Thomas Buckner, AACM and others.


Martin Simon & Astro Project

After making Poland his second home, and as a tribute to the spirit of collaboration in Collage, Simon has teamed up with two Polish-based fellow bandmates from some of Poland’s finest world music bands (Warsaw Village Band, Stilo, Rei Ceballo y Calle Sol, Magda Piskorczyk etc.) to brings to life new impassioned material from Escoto & Simon team. Named after Escoto’s nickname ‘Astro’, the three piece band is at once intimately lyrical and intensely forceful, crossing between arranged and improvised parts of sophisticated harmonies, syncopated rhythms and intriguing melody lines.

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Listen now to “Carnival of Joy” by Martin Simon and Astro Project at MusicZeitgeist.com’s free Indie Music Jukebox

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