Mark Simmonds (saxophonist)

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Mark Simmonds
Christchurch, New Zealand
Years active1970s–2000

Mark Simmonds is an Australian jazz tenor saxophonist, composer, and leader of the group The Freeboppers. Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1955, he moved to Sydney, Australia, when he was 10 years old.[1]


Prominent in the Australian jazz scene throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s, Mark Simmonds also worked in many other musical settings such as soul, funk groups The Dynamic Hepnotics (1985–1986), Jackie Orszaczky's Jump Back Jack, and also contemporary music groups such as Phil Treloar's Feeling to Thought, PipeLine and The Umbrellas. In addition to these, the Australian Rock database lists Simmonds as a member of Drain, Corroboree, Chris Turner Band, Silver Studs, Keys Orchestra, Moonlight, Ol' 55, Bentley's Boogie Band, and Renee Geyer Band.[2] Simmonds led his own groups, mostly under the name of The Freeboppers. In December 1981, Mark Simmonds' Freeboppers played at the All Souls Feast Dance fundraising benefit at the Trades Union Club in Sydney, along with The Laughing Clowns, Dead Travel Fast, and performer and organizer, Jon Rose.[3]

Two songs of The Freeboppers were featured on the KMA (Keys Music Association) compilation LP in 1982 entitled March of the Five Limbs. Mark Simmonds' Freeboppers released a full length double CD entitled 'FIRE' in 1993 on Birdland Records (BL002).[4][5] The album won an Aria Award for Best Jazz Album in 1995.[6] A song called Kings Cross Drag was included on the 1993 Vox Australis album, Beyond El Rocco : The Ultimate Australian Jazz Soundtrack.[7]

Simmonds' collaborators include Steve Elphick (bass), Phil Treloar (percussion), David Adés (alto sax), Jamie Fielding (keyboards), Greg Sheehan (drums), Miroslav Bukovsky (trumpet), Peter Dehlsen (drums), Louis Burdett (drums), Peter Fine, Daniel Fine (sax), Steve Hunter (bass), Serge Ermöll (piano), Kees Steen (guitar), Rob Gador (bass), Michael Sheridan (guitar), Chris Abrahams (piano),[8] Cleis Pierce (violin), Samila Sithole (percussion), Andrew Gander (drums), Thierry Fossemalle (bass), Scott Tinkler (trumpet), Simon Barker (drums),[9] Azo Bell (guitar), Duncan Archibald (drums), Diane Peters (harp), Bobby Gebert (piano), Mark Shepherd (bass), Will Guthrie (drums), Scott Lambie (drums), Philip Rex (bass), Tony Buck (drums), Elliött Dalgléish (saxophones), Rick Caskey (bass), Charlie Owen (guitar).

In an article from the Sydney Morning Herald 13 May 1987, jazz critic Gail Brennan wrote: "Mark Simmond's Freeboppers devastated the Basement with an unbroken hour-and-a-half orgy of rhythm and fire." The article reviews a double-bill with the Dale Barlow Quintet at Sydney's most renowned jazz venue, The Basement, on 11 May 1987. It goes on to say Mark "led a band that had played in public for a month (at the Piccadilly) and their confidence and cohesion were glorious to hear" and concludes; "It is not often that a reviewer of Australian jazz has no choice but to gush. This was one of those nights."[10]

Simmonds no longer performs or plays.[5]


  1. ^ Jazz - The Australian Accent by John Shand
  2. ^ "Dynamic Hepnotics". Australian Rock Database. Australian Rock Database. Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  3. ^ "All Souls Feast Dance". Fast Forward (Cassette Magazine) (scanned image). Fast Forward. December 1981. p. 9. Archived from the original on 2011. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  4. ^ "Fire". Music Australia. National Library of Australia. 27 June 1996. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  5. ^ a b "Mark Simmonds Freeboppers - Fire". Birdland Records. Retrieved 5 October 2010.
  6. ^ Soap. "ARIA Awards 2010 : History: Winners by Year". Aria Awards. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 5 October 2010.
  7. ^ "Beyond El Rocco : The Ultimate Australian Jazz Soundtrack". Music Australia. National Library of Australia. 27 July 2004. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  8. ^ "Biographies - Chris Abrahams". The Necks. The Necks. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  9. ^ "Simon Barker (Drums)". The Australian Art Orchestra. The Australian Art Orchestra. Archived from the original on 3 February 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  10. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 13 May 1987