Christopher Simmons

Pianist, keyboardist, percussionist and composer Christopher Simmons started his music career in Orillia, ON, Canada. His father Herb Simmons, (1917 – 2005), was a composer and pianist/organist. At the age of 16, Herb wrote the school song for Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute (KCVI), founded in 1792, which was a secondary school in Kingston Ontario, Canada and was the oldest public secondary school in Ontario and the second oldest in Canada until it closed in 2020. Herb played semi-professionally starting in the late 1930’s until the late 90's with several jazz bands around southern Ontario. Christopher’s influence from his father was evident, in that at the age of 8 he received his first of many drum sets and started playing professionally at the age of 14 by frequently performing with his father’s trio and jazz bands he was in for several years. Christopher was also a drummer/percussionist in high school as well. After he graduated, he then enrolled as a drummer, in the advanced applied music program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, ON, where he eventually became the principal pianist in both the Mohawk College and McMaster University big bands. Like his father, it was very evident that Christopher had a natural talent on the piano. In his final year at Mohawk College, he was hired as an assistant jazz piano instructor. After receiving his diploma in advanced applied music; Christopher performed the Hamilton and Toronto circuit for several years as a sideman in several groups, including being keyboardist with local Hamilton sensation and Juno award winning blues singer Harrison Kennedy, as well as pianist in the Rick Tait big band. Christopher then went onto lead his own jazz fusion group, resulting in live and syndicated performances on Radio and National Television across Canada. He was then awarded Grants from the Canada Council for the Arts which enabled Christopher to study in New York City with pianists Richie Beirach, Lynne Arriale as well as Jim McNeely; pianist, composer, arranger for the Grammy Award winning Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.

While in New York City, some of Christopher's performance highlights included; Musical Director/Pianist at the Centennial birthday tribute on April 29th, 1999, to the late great pianist/composer/band leader Duke Ellington (1899-1974); at the Triad off Broadway Theater. The sold out tribute featured New York City gospel/jazz vocalist Karl Dion Dixon, and several special guests including Duke’s only sibling; his younger sister, the late Ruth Ellington (1915-2004). While in New York City, Christopher also performed piano and keyboards at 55 Bar, CBGB's, Chicago Blues, Dan Lynch Blues Bar, Jazz Gallery, Knickerbocker Bar & Grill, Knitting Factory, Leisure Yacht Charters, Man Ray, National Arts Club, Nell's, New Music Café, Smalls Jazz Club, Sweet Basil, Visiones, Waldorf Astoria, and Zinc Bar. He also played keyboards with the Sunday Gospel house band at Ashford & Simpson’s Sugar Bar; and had a solo piano house gig every Monday night for several years at the infamous Empire Diner.

As a composer/pianist, Christopher's compositions capture and reveal several genres of music that is influenced by blues, classical, gospel, new age and jazz. The music maintains a noble stylistic consistency that provides a solid foundation for highly active interplay, heartfelt expression and creative dynamic improvisation. To date Christopher Simmons has released seven CD’s as a leader. His most recent CD “Know The Now”, features Artie Roth on Bass and Kevin Dempsey on drums and is all original material. 

Now living in Toronto; Christopher Simmons teaches privately, is involved in philanthropic initiatives for the arts, and performs in various venues such as; Home Smith Bar, Musideum, Gallery 345, and Jazz Bistro, and continues to be active performing in music festivals such as; TD Toronto Jazz Festival and Arts in the Parks Summer Concert Series. In 2017, a very special concert occurred at the Jazz Bistro in Toronto; when the Christopher Simmons quartet performed a tribute to the late great composer/pianist Thelonious Sphere Monk on October 10th, 2017; the Centennial of Thelonious Monk's birth. 

Currently, Christopher is focused on composing and practicing for his next release in 2021. Christopher also has countless compositions that are part of music licencing libraries, that are used in media such as, advertising, film, internet and television. His devotion to the longevity of live music is evident in that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Christopher has fundraised over 1,000,000 dollars through philanthropic initiatives for symphonies throughout North America. He is also very honoured to be an adjudicator for MusiCounts, which is Canada's music education charity, affiliated with CARAS and the JUNO Awards. MusiCounts celebrates musical excellence and puts musical instruments into the hands of kids that need them the most, while striving to see that all children and youth in Canada have access to music education.