The Atlantic Crossing Ensemble makes a transatlantic musical journey from the African west coast, via Cape Verde to the Caribbean and South America, conducted by Michael Simon.
The ensemble was founded by musician and artistic producer Dennis Winter.
It is intended as a tribute and reminder of the enslaved who involuntarily made the crossing from Africa to the Americas and the Caribbean. The initiative is primarily a commemoration of the abolition of slavery, which is an important element in the musical program of the ensemble.
The cultural richness of mother Africa is an unmistakable handover element in the music of the Americas and the Caribbean. This element will be both tangible and audible in the music of the Atlantic Crossing Ensemble. From this African origin, the 10 musicians make smooth musical transitions through countries such as the Netherlands Antilles, Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname, in search of connection and dialogue.
Michael Simon (Venezuela/Curacao) – musical director, trumpet and flugelhorn
Delbert Bernabela (Aruba) – tenor and soprano saxophones
Paulinho Paes (Brazil) – guitar
David Bernabela (Aruba) – bass
Urvin Doornkamp (Suriname) – drums
Gerardo Rosales (Venezuela) – congas and afro percussion
Evelyn Vera Gallardo (NL/Ecuador) – piano
Isia Da Luz (Cape Verde) – vocals
Jalli Lamin Kuyateh (Gambia) – kora
The Atlantic Crossing Ensemble performed in 2019 during Heritage Day in Theater a/h Spui, in The Hague, in 2021 at the Delfshaven Festival, and in 2022 in De Doelen in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
With The Congruent Five, Michael Simon presents a brand new band of emerging musicians who are already making their mark in the music scene. Spanish, African, Latin American and Asian elements fuse into an exciting melting pot!
Social distancing is no longer there, but a post-Covid era is certainly different than before. Deep connection, harmony, congruence and an inspiring perspective are valuable elements that people pay more attention too. Likewise, the quality of a relationship, a good and familiar feeling of like-minded people is important for what can be made together. With this mindset, Michael found the members of his new band. With a wealth of diverse cultural backgrounds in The Congruent Five, Michael will put a new spin on his own compositions.
Michael Simon – trumpet, flugelhorn
Andrew Moreno – guitar
David Gutierrez Franco – piano
Ildo Nandja – bass
Greg Smith – drums
Experiencing stillness is not only euphoric but also practical. Stillness offers an environment to check-in on yourself and to feel how you are for real, but also to see what is at play in your mind. Such experiences can be had by listening to certain types of music. There is stillness in music as well, and it creates a perfect environment to fall into the moment or the “now”, which is in fact the time in which we live. A deep experience of the now can connect you to something greater. There are pauses in music, often used to breathe and to receive ideas from an inexhaustible source. A source with which you connect when you focus deeply on the “now”, and you let it take you. The music of Meditations invites you to this experience, and takes you in a musical journey where relaxation, reflexions, rediscovery, and spiritual cleansing may occur.
Michael Simon and Maarten Meddens are passionate musicians with many years of experience. In their musical life, there came a moment when there was a need for a new challenge. They were looking for a lasting collaboration in which their artistic and musical skills could be fully utilized. Shared interests and musical taste brought them on the same path, and so Meditations was born.
Michael Simon has been visiting South-East Asia for years and during those travels, Michael met an amazing man, Master Dhyan Vimal, whose love overwhelmed him at first encounter, and so Michael decided to follow his teachings. It has since been a journey of intensive self-discovery and growth.
Through the Master’s teachings, Michael began remembering who he really is, what is at his core and began encountering what life is demanding of him moment to moment. It also gave Michael an insight into his relationship with his music. At times, such realizations and encounters give rise to a surge of energy that takes over his body, mind and emotions. Getting in tune with That requires him to dissolve ego, to listen, to empty his mind and simply be available and have faith in That. In fact, it is in this space where his music is born and where he plays from his heart.
Despite his strong Latin background, Michael realizes that the music he created, in particular, his recent work, is beyond categorization. It is a celebration of Life through music that calls us to remember peace, remember stillness and remember the present moment where Life unfolds and is continuously unfolding.
During his travels to South-East Asia, Michael stumbled upon some Asian songs and was immediately captivated by the beauty of the melodies and oriental accents. He couldn’t help but listen to the music over and over again. In a light bulb moment, Michael rearranged a few Asian songs and created a new piece called ‘I and He’ so as to put forth all his realizations above. He then invited a few passionate musicians who loved his work to bring about this beautiful creation to share with everyone. Hence, the birth of this new album which is due to release in 2015.
Michael Simon – trumpet, flugelhorn
Jasper van Damme – alto saxophone
Rein Godefroy – piano
Bam Bam Rodriguez– bass
Greg Smith – drums
Recognized by the prestigious online magazine Latin Jazz Network as ‘a shape-shifting musician and instrumentalist’, Michael Simon has developed into a protean trumpeter, composer, arranger and interpreter of international prominence and significance.
The realization that music is a universal language that connects and unites people regardless of their race, background and culture, has led Michael to explore Asian music and incorporate those elements in his current realm of work. When Latin rhythms from Venezuela and the Caribbean are fused into Asian melodies, colored by jazz sounds and harmonies, Michael realizes that the music he created, particularly his most recent works, frequently goes in surprising directions and transcends the music genres in the present time. It’s a celebration of life that calls us to remember humanity and it’s creation, peace, tranquility and the present moment in which life unfolds. It promotes and enriches knowledge; if it gives us pleasure and emotions, the same way it can help us understand our experiences better. That is widely evident in his latest release ‘Asian Connection’.
On ‘Asian Connection’, Michael teams up with saxophonist Terry Hsieh, one of the most active saxophonist in Taiwan, and is backed up by a top notch rhythm section of emerging Asian artists comprising of Sri Hanuraga (Indonesia) on piano, Ochiai Kosuke (Japan) on bass and John Thomas (Malaysia) on drums. Further, the presence of Tsai Hauyi on the Pipa will add a flare of spice to the already colorful palette “Asian Connection’ and is set to lead the band into uncharted musical waters.
“Energetic performance with exciting latin rhythms were creatively presented with Asian influences. To see a Pipa instrument played along with the common played jazz musical instrument such as trumpet, piano, saxophone and drums is just awesome!” – A Woman’s Diary (.com)
“In many ways though it was both Michael Simon’s Asian Connection and the Idang Rasjidi Syndicate who echoed the region’s atmosphere and heat with two contrasting yet compelling performances that point towards a fascinating future for Southeast Asian jazz. “ – Jon Newey (Jazzwise Magazine)
“On Asian Connection Michael Simon is at the top of his game. His playing is vivid and especially poignantly so on the two-part piece “Dance of the Yao Tribe”. His genius here is to take this traditional music and link it like an elegant railway to Jazz, folk and tango often in the ambient domain of a 21st century conservatoire.” – Raul da Gama (Latin Jazz Network)
Roots United was founded by Michael Simon at the beginning of the new millennium. With this group Michael promotes the evolution of the venerable Latin jazz genre in his own way by performing original works. To this aim, he recruits outstanding and versatile musicians to be a part of his group.
The music of Roots United acquires a fusion of musical styles by combining Western compositional techniques with ‘Afro-Caribbean and South-American’ rhythms and interpretations into a traditional jazz context. An important way to achieve such a blend of musical styles was to gather musicians that are acquainted with both idioms; hence the roots. As it is for Andy Gonzalez (a major exponent of the genre), Latin jazz is about developing a jazz sensibility in relation to the music, its structure, its swing and character which in turn allows other musicians to spontaneously engage in a musical conversation at a very high level and together, explore new grounds.
The music of Roots United relays a promising outlook for the sometimes under-investigated Latin jazz genre and has proven that it possesses a level of energy unlike any other music. There is something about the rhythms and the dramatic gestures that make audiences become intensely involved. It is a fresh approach promising both a delightful listening experience and exciting intellectual stimulation. Moreover, their rhythms move the music in a way that energizes and loosens up audiences, thanks to the fact that they are danceable.
Undeniable is the fact that the members of Roots United contribute as a collective to the sound of the group, and form a unique blend. Their music is inspired by iconic latin and jazz artists such as: Miles Davis, Chucho Valdez, John Coltrane, Jerry & Andy Gonzales, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, Eddie Palmieri, Afrocuba and Dizzy Gillespie.
Write to Michael Simon & Roots United @ firstname.lastname@example.org.