Simmons played in a band while serving in the U.S. military in 1946. He remained in Germany after the war, studying music, and moved to Paris in 1949. There he studied at the Paris Conservatory and the Ecole Normale de Musique, playing with Charlie Parker and Kenny Clarke at the Paris Jazz Festival; he also played with Aaron Bridgers, Don Byas, Robert Mavounzy, and Nelson Williams. Simmons led his own group at the Ringside Club in 1951. In the early 1950s he played with Dizzy Gillespie and Quincy Jones, and toured London with singers such as Bertice Reading. As resident pianist at the Mars Club, he worked with Michel Gaudry, Pierre Cullaz, and Elek Bacsik, and accompanied touring singers such as Carmen McRae and Billie Holiday (1958). In the early 1960s he played in a duo with Art Taylor.
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- The Great Blue Star Sessions (with Dizzy Gillespie)1952-1953 (EmArcy, 1952-53 )
- Art Simmons Boogie Woogie Piano Stylings (Mercury Wing, SRW 12505, Recorded In Paris, France, Released 1959)
- Art Simmons and Aaron Bridgers when they played in The Living Room Jazz in Paris