The Simon Alliance
Friday, February 16, 2024, 7:30 pm
Simon Mulligan | piano
Adam Nussbaum | drums
Gene Perla | bass
“Phenomenal,” declared Herbie Hancock. “The most abundantly gifted of pianists,” raves The Times of London. He fuses the worlds of classical and jazz, performing with orchestras, chamber musicians and jazz ensembles, and for Presidents and Royalty.
British pianist Simon Mulligan has been described by The Times of London as ‘the most abundantly gifted of pianists’, by Yehudi Menuhin as ‘one of the finest pianists I have ever had the pleasure of performing with’ and by Herbie Hancock as ‘phenomenal’. Following his début with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Simon has performed and recorded with the BBC Symphony, Detroit Symphony (under Slatkin), English Symphony Orchestra (Boughton), Warsaw Sinfonia (Menuhin), Hong Kong Philharmonic (Atherton), Malaysian Philharmonic, and the Royal National Scottish Orchestra (Serebrier) to name a few.
Simon made his first compact disc under the direction of Yehudi Menuhin, which led to a seven-year collaboration and friendship, culminating in what was to be Lord Menuhin's final concert in Düsseldorf. Since then, recording highlights include Piano for Sony Classical, featuring his own arrangements, compositions, and adaptations for piano and orchestra. Simon has also made compact discs for Universal, Decca, Nimbus and Naxos. His recording The Piano Music of Alexis Weissenberg for Nimbus, includes spontaneous improvisations recorded in the presence of the composer.
As a chamber musician, Simon collaborates with many notable artists. Simon was just nineteen when he began worldwide tours with ‘cellist Lynn Harrell. He soon began recital tours with violinist Joshua Bell, performing at every major international venue as well as a live broadcasts for Lincoln Center and the Grammy Awards. Simon has performed for President Barack Obama, Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family, and has collaborated with Dame Shirley Bassey, Branford Marsalis, Liza Minnelli, Van Morrison, and Sting.
Alongside an extensive solo repertoire and almost sixty concertos, Simon’s focus on contemporary music has led to first performances of works by Hans Werner Henze, James MacMillan, Paul Moravec, Tobias Picker, Mark Anthony Turnage and Alexis Weissenberg. Simon’s passion for improvisation has featured in numerous publications including Downbeat, JazzTimes, International Pianist, and Gramophone. He enjoyed a close friendship with film composer Michael Kamen, and is soloist on Kamen’s album The New Moon in the Old Moon’s Arms (for Decca), with the BBC Symphony conducted by Leonard Slatkin. He also collaborated with Kamen and is featured on the soundtrack to the HBO television series Band of Brothers, produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. As a jazz pianist, he gives concerts with his London quartet and New York trio.
Last season saw a Beethoven album release on Arkiv, performances at Colombia’s Mozart Festival and concerto appearances with Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Simon is a Steinway Artist and has recorded over forty hours of music for the Steinway Spirio, a new high-resolution playback piano.
A Music Scholar of St Paul’s School in London, Simon began his studies with Andrew Pledge, before winning a scholarship to study with Alexander Kelly at the Royal Academy of Music and Jacques Rouvier in Paris. He also studied Beethoven at the personal invitation of Alfred Brendel. Simon won a further scholarship to the International Piano Academy at Italy’s Lake Como where he began his studies under Alexis Weissenberg. Simon is one of the youngest recipients to be awarded the prestigious Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Music for his musical achievements. He additionally counts among his mentors Charles Rosen and Murray Perahia.
Adam Nussbaum is considered one of the finest drummers working today. He's played with a virtual "Who's Who" in the jazz world. Longtime associates have included: John Abercrombie, Michael & Randy Brecker, Eliane Elias, Gil Evans, Stan Getz, Vic Juris, James Moody, John Scofield, Joe Sample, Ohad Talmor, ‘Toots' Thielemans, Kenny Wheeler & NHØP, as well as freelancing with prominent artists of every generation, being a major asset no matter where he appears. Nussbaum has recently formed the Lead Belly Project. He has also joined forces with other musicians to form such groups as “BANN” w/Seamus Blake, Jay Anderson & Oz Noy, “We3” w/Dave Liebman & Steve Swallow, "The Impossible Gentlemen" w/Gwilym Simcock, Steve Rodby & Mike Walker, “The Nuttree Quartet" w/John Abercrombie, Jerry Bergonzi & Gary Versace and "The ZZ Quartet w/Ratko Zjaca, Simone Zanchini & Martin Gjakanovski. He's been on hundreds of recordings, including the Grammy winning "Don't Try This At Home” recorded with Michael Brecker.
In addition, Nussbaum reaches out to the next generation. He is an in-demand educator doing Clinics and Master Classes, teaching at such institutions as Berklee, NYU, State University of New York, the New School, and at numerous Conservatories around the world.
His abilities have brought opportunities for him to work with the finest makers of all things drum-related. Working with Sonor drums, he helped design a line in the “HiLite” series. In conjunction with Zildjian cymbals, Nussbaum helped developed the “Renaissance” & "Pre-Aged” K. Zildjian cymbals. He also coproduced with Hudson Music, "The Art of Playing Brushes."
He was born in New York City and grew up in Norwalk, Connecticut and started to play drums at age 12 after studying piano for five years; he also playing bass and saxophone as a teenager. He moved to New York City in 1975 to attend The Davis Center for Performing Arts at City College. He eventually focused on drums.
Gene Perla grew up in northeastern New Jersey attending public school grades 1-12. After one year of post graduate study at New York Military Academy he entered the University of Toledo majoring in civil engineering and business. He then attended Berklee School of Music and Boston Conservatory before heading to New York City.
At age five Gene’s musical studies began with classical piano. Upon entering high school he was given a trombone which he played for five years culminating in marching on Fifth Avenue in New York City as part of the Memorial Day Parade. During high school he became aware of jazz and was thrilled to attend the first New York performance of Ted Heath’s big band at Carnegie Hall. It wasn’t until his last year at TU that his interest in music became primary.
After struggling with too many notes, and thanks to Charlie Haden’s performance on Ornette Coleman’s "The Shape Of Jazz To Come,” Perla, at 24, switched to the bass as his main instrument. Not long after arriving in the City his talents became in demand and he found joy in performing with artists such as Willie Bobo, Carlos
“Patato” Valdes, Nina Simone, Woody Herman, Sarah Vaughan, Elvin Jones, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis and Frank Sinatra.
As an educator Mr. Perla has taught at William Paterson University, New School University, Center for the Media Arts and is currently at Lehigh University. Sound design has been a significant endeavor yielding credits on Broadway shows, theme parks and custom installations.
Having a business sense, Gene has continuously expanded his activities to include music publishing, record labels, recording studios, promotional firms, Internet design and hosting and computer networking businesses as vehicles for his ideas.