Meet 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… Read full interview at

Press Quotes

“This Latin jazz platter sizzles with Marlon Simon’s percussion. Marlon, who has written a half dozen tunes, creates a set that’s impassioned without being loud.”
– Karl Stark, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Simon is a Venezuelan born percussionist who immigrated to the U.S. bringing with him a fine feel for Latin jazz and a gift for composition.”
– Billboard Magazine

“Marlon Simon’s fourth CD (In Case You Missed It) with his band The Nagual Spirits provides further proof that the Venezuelan-born, Philly based percussionist is hardly content to rest within the constraints of Latinjazz.”
– Shaun Brady, Philadelphia Daily News

“Considered a top scholar and musician in the field of Latin jazz, drummer and percussionist Marlon Simon releases another electrifying album with his band The Nagual Spirits. ‘In Case You Missed It’ showcases Simon’s rhythmically rich arrangements of four new originals and several standards.”
– Edward Blanco,

CD Reviews

Marlon Simon and The Nagual Spirits
The Music of Marlon Simon
AllMusic Review by Evan C. Gutierrez

The Music of Marlon Simon and The Nagual Spirits

After a number of years on New York’s short list of Latin jazz sidemen, Venezuelan drummer/percussionist Marlon Simon was long overdue for a solo project. His debut as a leader, with the Nagual Spirits, Music of Marlon Simon features not only the innovative, creative musicianship of Marlon Simon, but that of his fellow “first call” Latin jazzers. The credits include renowned bandleader of the Fort Apache Band Jerry González on congas, tenor saxophonist John Stubblefield, trumpeter Brian Lynch, bass player John Benítez, and Simon’s brother Edward on piano. The majority of the players contributing their considerable talents are distinguished bandleaders in their own rights, and their pedigrees shine through. Simon does a fantastic job of presenting rhythms and ideas from every nook and cranny of the Afro-Latin tradition. Around every corner, there is a new style, and a new idiom, both rare and beautiful. The production is as uncommonly good as the performances. Marlon Simon and the Nagual Spirits display exquisite taste and maturity. While Music of Marlon Simon may be one of the most underrated releases of the decade, it could not come highly recommended enough.

Marlon Simon and The Nagual Spirits
Rumba a la Patato
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow

Marlon Simon and the Nagual Spirits - Rumba a la Patato

For his second CD as a leader, Marlon Simon (who plays drums, percussion, and bata) has such fine sidemen as trumpeter Brian Lynch, Peter Brainin (on tenor), altoist Bobby Watson, Luis Perdomo or Edward Simon on piano, John Benítez or Andy González on bass, and Roberto Quintero on congas. Simon’s eight originals include tributes to Patato Valdés and Thelonious Monk. His younger brother Michael Simon (who plays trumpet on two songs) contributed one tune. Lynch and Watson sound quite comfortable with the Latin grooves, and the end results are very satisfying.

Marlon Simon and The Nagual Spirits
Rumba a la Patato review by Jim Santella
Published on September 1, 2000

Marlon Simon and the Nagual Spirits - Rumba a la Patato

“Bobby Watson and Brian Lynch stand out on this Latin jam session led by drummer Marlon Simon. It’s his second album, made up largely of the leader’s own compositions. Younger brother Edward Simon guests on three tracks, while youngest brother Michael guests on the two that he composed. Marlon Simon, who was born in Venezuela, successfully combines equal portions of Latin music with jazz music to form Latin jazz. The essential ingredients are the swing, the loose improvisation, and the rhythmic groove.” Read full review

Marlon Simon and The Nagual Spirits
In Case You Missed It review by Mark F. Turner
Published on August 17, 2007

Marlon Simon and the Nagual Spirits - In Case You Missed It

“Many jazz fans are probably more familiar with pianist Edward Simon than his talented siblings Michael (trumpet) and Marlon (drums). But brother Marlon’s aptly titled In Case You Missed It might help to change that. The fact that Marlon Simon is an impressive percussionist and composer quickly surfaces with this fourth recording, leading his eclectic band, Nagual Spirits. In Case You Missed It is not so much a groundbreaking new thing in Latin jazz music as it is an intelligent execution of Simon’s skillful arrangements of the past and present.” Read full review

Marlon Simon and The Nagual Spirits
In Case You Missed It review by Michael P. Gladstone
Published on December 29, 2007

Marlon Simon and the Nagual Spirits - In Case You Missed It

“In Case You Missed It is percussionist Marlon Simon’s fourth album over the past ten years. His brother, trumpeter Michael, appears on two tunes while his better-known sibling, pianist Edward, is on all but one of the album’s nine tracks. The music is Latin jazz with an asterisk. On the opening “Overture, Marlon, with a full-sized ensemble, demonstrates that he is a traditionalist unafraid of mixing in new ideas, with constantly shifting tempos and shadings.” Read full review

News & Press Releases

Marlon Simon & The Nagual Spirits Awarded CMA Grant
Source: All About Jazz Publicity – July 14, 2006

Chamber Music America has selected Marlon Simon and his ensemble, The Nagual Spirits, as recipients of the “New Works: Creation and Presentation” grant–a competitive program in which the CMA commissions and presents new works in the jazz idiom, recognizing both established and emerging artists. Marlon Simon and The Nagual Spirits will present “The Nagual Suite,” with the support from Chamber Music America’s New Work: Creation and Presentation program, funded though the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Read full press release

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