Biography

Simon Montgomery

Bachelor of Music (BMus) in Jazz Performance.

Performer, Musical Director, Songwriter & Arranger, Sessional and Pit Musician, Tutor & Musical Management.

Saxophonist and Woodwind Specialist, Pianist & Backing Vocalist

Simon Montgomery was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia. From the age of 2 he   showed a strong interest and love in listening to music of all genres, but especially the saxophone, and began learning the piano at the age of four.

Throughout primary school, under the encouragement of his parents, Simon continued to learn the piano and completed classical exams as well as has his first experience performing in front of an audience at the annual Christmas concert. At the age of nine, whilst still learning the piano, Simon commenced his saxophone studies. Simon’s first saxophone teacher, Rex Jordan, taught him a love and passion for the saxophone and for performing as both a soloist and an ensemble member. This encouragement led to Simon joining a community band ran weekly by Rex within a year of him commencing tuition. Simon also began to perform as a saxophonist at any place that would listen to him, this included at school assemblies and performance in front of his year class, the Christmas Eve Vigil at St Mary’s Catholic Parish in Leederville, Western Australia. It was through his time in primary school that Simon fell in love with jazz and wanted to develop as a jazz musician.

Simon attended Aquinas College, a Catholic school for boys in the Edmund Rice tradition, for his high school years (1994 – 1998) and continued to be involved in music. In year 8 he started receiving saxophone from Mr James Anderson, the saxophone tutor at the College at the time. Simon, wanting as many opportunities to perform joined the College’s Concert Band, one of only two ensembles offered by the College at this time. He was inspired throughout this first year of high school by the College’s other band, Santinas, a band consisting of students from Aquinas College and Santa Maria College that was aimed at giving students the opportunity to play in a professional run working band. Musicians including Tom O’Halloran, jazz pianist, were members of this band in this year (1994).

In 1995 Simon began learning the saxophone for one year from Grant Rickman, in this year Simon was introduced to learning improvisation at a greater depth and the importance in continuing to grow in all disciplines on the saxophone (both jazz and classical) to truly have the facility to perform at a high level.

In 1996 – 1998 Simon learnt the saxophone from Shane Mancuso, it was these few years that really inspired and motivated Simon to pursue a career in music after finishing high school. In 1996 Simon joined the band Santinas and was a part of their many performances in the lead up to their tour scheduled to Europe at the end of that year. Unfortunately, due to financial reasons, this tour was cancelled and it was organised for the band to be the resident band on Hamilton Island in the Whit Sunday Islands for a week followed by a smaller group going on to Lindeman Island in the following week. Some of the events the band performed at throughout this year included the York jazz Festival (street stage) where people including jazz great, George Cables (pianist and composer) sat in for various songs. Whilst on Hamilton Island Santinas performed every night and most days, included in this residency was the supporting act for the Australian rock band The Hoodoo Gurus on their farewell “Spit the Dummy Tour”.

1997 saw Simon visit the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) with a group of his fellow students, this visit again inspired Simon to pursue his desire to study music at a tertiary level and become a professional musician.

Simon was given the role as Captain of Music at Aquinas in 1998, this role gave Simon an understanding of organising and running rehearsals. He also formed a jazz duo with a class mate and performed at various functions, both at Aquinas College including P&F Functions and the after celebrations of his own Graduation celebration as well as the entertainment for the VIP guests of the Catholic School Performing Arts Festival Finalist’s concert held at the Perth Concert Hall.

From 1999 – 2002 Simon studied at the WAAPA completing a Bachelor of Music (BMus) in the jazz course. Throughout his time at university Simon was able to learn from many inspiring and well accomplished jazz musicians from not only the local Perth music scene but also some well regarded both Nationally and Internationally. Lecturers Simon learnt from over this time included Roger Garood (1999-2000) and Graeme Lyall (2001-2002) for principle study. Other lecturers that influenced and directed Simon over his time at WAAPA included: Andy Vance, Ray Walker, Keith van Geyzel, Murray Wilkins and Chris Tarr.

Throughout his years at University, Simon gained a large amount of experience with playing with various musicians in many different bands around the local Perth music scene. People he played in included:

  • Mr Tweed, a quintet formed by male vocalist Ryan Long and featuring Kim Murray (guitar), Des White (bass) and Gordon Rider (Drums).
  • Simon Montgomery Quartet.
  • Nina O’Connell for the debut performance of the ballad “When I Heard”, a vocal tune written by Simon and performed at the Perth Jazz Society in 2001.
  • Shannon de Bie (jazz pianist and band leader).
  • Simon Nal (jazz guitarist) at his residency at the Stanford Arms Hotel.
  • Rob Arathoon (jazz guitarist).
  • Sobriquette featuring Jason Tan (piano), Shane Kelly (bass), Karl Brown (drums).

It was during the year of 2000 that Simon became active in playing music in the church after a long period of absence. Through his colleague, Karl Brown, he was introduced to Foundations Community and Church, later to be know as City Impact Community and Church and Impact Catholic Ministry, and joined as a member of their music / worship team to provide music for their weekly church services.

Throughout these years at university SImon began performing in various musical theatre productions as a member of the pit orchestra. For these productions Simon commenced his study of other woodwind instruments including the clarinet and flute, and more recently the oboe and the bassoon. Musical productions through his university years that Simon performed at included:

  • Kiss Me Kate (Aquinas College 1999 – Musical Director Chris McMillan).
  • My Favourite Year (WAAPA 2000 – Musical Director Derek Bond).
  • Bye Bye Birdie (WAAPA 2001 – Musical Director Derek Bond).
  • The Pajama Game (WAAPA 2002 – Musical Director Derek Bond).

In his final year of study (2002) Simon continued to grow in his experiences as a song arranger and session musician for recordings. He wrote the horn arrangement used by the Foundations Arts Team (FAT) on their debut EP release “I Know” as well as being featured as the soloist on the tracks “Come and Be With Me” and “All I Want is You”.

Simon commenced teaching the saxophone and clarinet in 2001 at the Mega Music Academy due to his connection to guitarist Steve Marmion. This was the beginning of his teaching career. In 2002 Simon began working as the woodwind tutor at Kingsway Christian College in Darch, Western Australia. Over the next six years (start of 2008) Simon taught the saxophone and clarinet as well as gained experience directing ensembles including the College Swing Band, the Concert Band and a Saxophone Ensembles. Under Simon’s direction the Swing Band won the open section of the Joondalup eistdedfod in 2006.

On graduating from university Simon joined the Western Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra (WAYJO) Big Band in 2003. Under the direction of Michael Cartwright he played in three different roles over three years filling the chair of 2nd Alto (2003), 1st Tenor (2004), and 1st Alto (2005). Over this tenure Simon got to perform at many events and had a continued access to many great jazz musicians including James Morrison, Don Burrows, Joe Chindamo, John Hoffman and Frank Foster.

In 2003 Simon took on the role of Youth Musical Director of Foundations Community and Church and in the same year became Musical Director of the whole Church in May of the same year and continued in this role until December 2010. As the Musical Director of a church Simon learnt the importance of communication and organisation with him running a rehearsal of a music team of 50 volunteers as well as organise rosters and schedules for 2 weekly church services and special events and conferences put on by the church throughout the course of a year.

Throughout his time as Musical Director of his local church community Simon had the opportunity to meet with many well known Christian Musicians some of these include:

  • Nikki Fletcher
  • Jeff Crabtree (Sante / Prayerworks / CCC Oxford Falls)
  • Andy Naylor (Prayer Works)
  • Dave Holmes
  • Ryan Smith (CCC Oxford Falls)
  • Tane Tare
  • Steve and Sue Hilder (Edge Church)
  • Charles and Joylene Starling (Edge Church)
  • Kris Guglielmucci (Edge Church)
  • Michael Battersby (Metro Church)
  • Wayne and Libby Huira (Parachute Band)Simon began writing liturgical Christian music in 2003, included in the titles he has written since 2003 are:
  • The Lords Prayer (2003)
  • Praise to You (2003)
  • My Soul Thirsts – words by Melissa Gee and Simon Montgomery (2003)
  • Your Mighty Cause – co-written with Daniel Gee (2009)
  • Your Majesty (2009)

Simon also began writing music specifically for use in the Catholic Mass using modern and contemporary instruments. Songs written include:

  • The Our Father (Traditional words)
  • How Wonderful Your Name (Ps 108)
  • A Priest Forever (Ps 109)
  • Lord Send Out Your Spirit (Ps 103)
  • With the Lord There is Mercy and Compassion (Ps 129)
  • Let Us Go Rejoicing to the House of the Lord (Ps 121)
  • Lord Show Us Your Mercy and Love (Ps 84)
  • Pentecost Sequence
  • Various Gospel Acclamations.

He continues to write these modern mass settings today and can be contacted about details as to how to purchase them for use in mass.

In 2005 Simon commenced work at one of his current workplaces, Mater Dei College, as the woodwind tutor. In his time at Mater Dei College he has not only taught instrumentally but also directed a saxophone ensemble and a clarinet ensemble. The saxophone ensemble, consisting of 10 members is a regular fixture as one of the best woodwind ensembles in the Catholic Schools Performing Arts Festival and was invited to particiapte in the playoffs for the category shield in 2009, unfortunately the ensembles could not compete in the playoff due to the unavailability of ensemble members. In 2010 one of Simon’s Tertiary Entrance Examinations (TEE) students from Mater Dei received the mark of 100% for his TEE performance exam.

At the end of 2006 Simon co-formed the cover band Animal Jam with university friend Con Mitskas (drummer), Joe Southwell (bass), Clifton Fynn (guitar) and Natalie Luciolli (vocals). Between 2006 and 2009 Animal Jam performed their high energy versions of soul, pop and rock in venues across Perth including the Universal Bar, Breakwater Hotel, Cannington Grey Hounds, Perth Convention Centre, Subiaco Hotel, Benny’s and Indian Ocean Brewery. In this band Simon’s role was to play keyboards and synthesizers as well as to provide backing vocal harmonies for many of the songs.

In 2006 Simon returned to Aquinas College as the woodwind tutor, teaching instruments including Saxophones, Clarinets, Oboe and Bassoon. Over his five years tenure as the woodwind tutor Simon has gained a vast experience in ensemble direction including running the concert band (2006 – 2008), Middle School Swing Band (2008 – present), Senior School Swing Band (2008 – present), Combined Concert Band with Perth College (2011) and various saxophone and clarinet small ensembles. In 2008 he toured with the senior swing band to New Zealand to participate in Rhapsody in Rotorua, a music festival for school students held annually in July.

At the end of 2006 SImon was put in contact with Jon Fernandes, an associate from his university days, and started playing with the Funk Club House Band as their first call when one of the regular horns was unavailable. Over the past five years Simon has performed at many events and venues with this band including Good Vibrations, Funk Club, Quarry Amphitheatre, Claremont Hotel, Albany, Salt on the Beach, various weddings / private events and played support to the likes of Alice Russell and The Cat Empire.

In 2008 Simon formed a jazz big band, St Thomas Big Band. This ensemble consists of former students from Aquinas College and is designed to give ex-students an opportunity to keep playing music after they leave school. Since its inception the band has grown to now comprise of 18 regular members (full big band). This band has performed in places including the York Jazz and Soul Festival (2008), Days in the Dioscese on the Perth Esplanade (2008) and various private functions.

Simon joined Odette Mercy and Her Soul Atomics in July 2008 and have performed with them at many events and venues around the Perth metropolitan area. This band, performing original tunes in a style similar to Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings have performed as support to Seal (2009 – Kings park Botanic Gardens), Menahan Street Band (2008 – Funk Club), Alice Russell (2009 – Bakery) and Russ Dewbury’s Jazz Rooms. They have performed at the Perth International Arts Festival (PIAF) Beck’s Music Box, the Ellington Jazz Club, Funk Club, Deville’s Pad, Double Lucky Bar, The Flying Scotsman Hotel, a residency at Ocean One Bar and various other venues around the Perth metropolitan area.

In 2008 Simon started spending more time writing music, both Liturgical and Secular, and being used as a session musician for various recordings. He recorded the Alto saxophone solo with Grace Barbe for the track “Regae Kreole” feaured on the album “Kreol Daughter”. He has since performed with Grace Barbe at Double Lucky Bar and the Ellington Jazz Club. Also in this year he organised and was producer for the first recordings of the Catholic Guy Ministry, a Catholic Television program shown on the Australian Chrisitna Channel. Under the expertise of Sound Engineer Chad Blondel, the tracks “Come and Be With Me” and “Hallelujah to the King” were recorded and are regularly heard as a part of the television show The Catholic Guy.

In 2009 Simon joined the Askari Afrobeat Orchestra, a band playing music in the style of Fela Kuti. This 13 piece band has performed at many events since its inception including Mojos and the Funk Club (afrodisia), Russ Dewbury’s Jazz Rooms, Devilles Pad, Kulcha, and the bakery as support to Mulatu Astatqu.

Odette Mercy and Her Soul Atomics commenced recording their debut EP “Wait in Vain” in July 2008. Simon has provided the saxophone parts on these four recordings. Featured on these tracks is soul icon, trombonist Fred Wesley. Fred has been a part of many top soul acts through his career including regular performances as a member of James Borwn’s band.

Simon Montgomery also was more involved in the work of the Catholic Guy Ministry over 2009 and the beginning of 2010. At the beginning of 2009 the second recording was completed under his guidance and the skills of sound Engineer James Newhouse. Recorded in this session were the tracks “Your Mighty Cause” and “Your Majesty”. This year also saw a large amount of work done in Catholic parishes through the Catholic Guy Parish missions. In October of 2009 Simon formed the Catholic Guy Orchestra, this forty piece orchestra had their debut performance in December 2009 at “Joy to the World – an evening with the Catholic Guy” held at the Perth Town Hall. At Easter in 2010 the orchestra with the addition of a choir, also organised by Simon, performed as a part of the Catholic Guy event “Victory – an evening with the Catholic Guy”.

In 2009 Simon expanded his music management business – The Wedding Music Planner. Using his knowledge and experience, as well as connection, Simon set about starting a business where he would work alongside people having events needing live music to ensure they got top quality entertainment for the money they were spending. Simon has provided music in many venues and for many different styles of events and catering to different entertainment requests and demands to suit the individual events.

Some of the styles of music he has catered for include:

  • Wedding ceremonies – choirs and string instrumental ensembles
  • Wedding ceremonies – contemporary bands and solo singers
  • Wedding receptions – cover bands, disc-jockeys, jazz trios, larger jazz groups and big band
  • Corporate events – jazz trios, jazz duos

These entertainment needs have had to be supplied at a diverse style of venue from outdoors to restaurants and cafes, yacht and golf clubs to ballrooms.

Simon is currently working as a professional musician in Odette Mercy and her Soul Atomics, Askari Afrobeat Orchestra, Simon Montgomery Duo, Trio, Quartet and Quintet as well as a session musician for hire for specific shows and recording sessions as needed. He is also continuing as the musical director and manager of the St Thomas Big Band and also works as a tutor at Aquinas College, Mater Dei College and from home privately.

Simon is continuing to provide music for weddings, parties, private and corporate functions / events through his management business The Wedding Music Planner.

Simon is passionate about the Catholic Church and seeing an excellence in music come out of it to bring glory to God and inspire and connect with people in the modern day world. He is regularly writing and recording psalms and mass parts that are available for use upon request as well as being available to workshop music ministries established inside of parishes to see them grow and contribute to the celebration of mass and the liturgy of the Eucharist.

For more information on Simon, how to connect with him and stay in touch with all he is up to become a fan on facebook and contact him either by leaving a message on his wall, sending him a message or contacting via email.

Listen to some sample recordings of Simon Montgomery on his Music Samples and Catholic Music pages.

 

 

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