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Meet Marlon Simon

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marlon Simon.

Marlon Simon is a Drummer percussionist, composer, and educator who came to the USA in 1987 with a burning desire to learn Jazz. He arrived in Philadelphia where he went to the University of the arts then moving to NYC where he obtained his Bachelor degree in jazz and contemporary music. Marlon states: it was a long hard process, first you had to keep a day job to maintain a roof over your head while after working on factories, construction, landscaping for ten-hour a day you come home to work on your instrument. Meanwhile working locally as a drummer and percussionist on both cities for several years. It was pianist Hilton Ruiz and bassist Charles Fambrough who first gave me the opportunity to start recording and touring internationally, later on working on and off with Bobby Watson, Jerry Gonzalez among others.

At some point, I did a couple of gigs with the great Aretha Franklin on percussion in Atlantic City NJ. After recording a couple of album for these artists, I founded THE NAGUAL SPIRITS, with this band was able to explore my faculties as a composer creating a unique Latin jazz style in Philadelphia and New York. With the nagual spirits, I recorded six albums, the latest been “IN CASE YOU MISSED”. Later on, I received an invitation from a group of French musicians to come to France and work on a couple of projects, I recorded two albums in France, The Marlon Simon French Latin Jazz project, and the French Venezuelan project Racines. I also have received numerous awards in arts and education during my career. The nagual spirits were selected to present international concerts representing the excellence and integrity of the musical art forms born in the USA, in this case, Latin Jazz.

In the year 2010, I took some time out of gigs and playing, I was going through some other personal issues and need to create some space. Now, back in business, I relocated to Houston where I am concentrating my efforts working as a sideman, creating a Nagual Spirits band in Houston and also working as a steady percussionist for the Houston band Groove Adhesive. These different projects become a challenge since they are completely different styles and musical concepts. As a sideman, I bring year of experiences to the bandstand, with The Nagual Spirits I bring my own composition and the highest level of Latin jazz in the city, with Groove Adhesive is a challenge for me to be involved in a jazz fusion style I was never before bringing new ideas at the spur of the moment. You can read more about my career at

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
As I said before, it’s been a hard road… I think the better the quality of music the hardest it is to survive because the audiences become limited and there is only a small amount of music fans who understand music that goes further than commercial. Creative music can be very profound to understand, to survive as a creative artist is always a struggle in a country based on consumerism, meaning quantity instead of quality. It takes an immense amount of effort and energy to produce creative high-quality music… I remember those time recording and releasing my records as a leader… it takes a specific mindset to be able to do that. Then, dealing with record companies who are just looking to make profits no matter what. Then, comes the gigs.. there are so many bands and so few places to perform… so we as an artist are constantly facing these challenges. To the point that most of the time, the musical concept get lost in the search of work, trying to impress the audience usually takes away the meaning of what music is. Music is not about competition, is about creation.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I have dedicated my entire life to music. To play and record music of the highest quality. My field of expertise is Jazz and Latin Jazz. In the year 2006, I won a grant to travel to Cuba and do research on Afro-Caribbean rhythms and its influence on American Jazz sponsor by the Department of State. I have also done an immense amount of research on my own, transcriptions, etc., etc. I have developed a parallel career as an educator giving masterclasses and workshops around the USA and abroad in Europe. Finally, with my band the nagual spirits I believe we were able to produce a unique Latin Jazz concept where we blend Afro-Caribbean rhythms with jazz improvisation. All the members of the band are very well prepare to do this type of music. You can get my records online and listen what am I talking about… it is complex music but made sound easy, you can also hear that on my brother’s records, pianist Edward Simon and trumpeter Michael Simon, they both compose some of the highest Jazz and Latin jazz music but easy to digest at the time. I consider that a unique arts form.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I come from a small town in Venezuela called Punta Cardon, we did not have any music schools so I basically learned on my own… I wish I could have started formal musical studies earlier. I took my first drum set lesson at the age of 27 when I was accepted at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 21407 Cimarron Parkway, Katy TX 77450
  • Website:
  • Phone: 9152349346
  • Email:
  • Facebook: Marlon Simon and the nagual spirits
  • Other: Facebook  Marlon Simon music

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