“Barker has few peers worldwide for flexibility, resourcefulness, imagination and a complete absence of rhythmic clichés.” John Shand (SMH 2010)
“Simon Barker is one of Australia’s most extraordinary jazz drummers, playing with an intensity that is virtually unrivalled. Through his transcultural performances, master classes and musical explorations in Korea, Japan, China, and elsewhere, Barker has considerably extended the vocabulary of Australian jazz.” Tony Mitchell (Music Forum 2010)
Simon studied here in Australia with Jon Collins, and in New York with John Riley, Keith Copeland, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Kim Plainfield and Mike Clarke. Since returning home in 1990 he has performed throughout Australia, Europe, Asia and the US. In 2001, he studied with Kang Sun il. And in 2005 Simon set up Kimnara Records, an independent record label presenting new music by Australian improvisers. He is currently working as a Senior Lecturer at The University of Sydney/Conservatorium of Music.
Simon has produced a large collection of solo drumming recordings, including the recently released A B Ten Learning in Change, and over the past 20 years he has been involved in several ongoing collaborative projects including Band of Five Names (with Phil Slater and Matt Mcmahon), Showa 44 (duo with Carl Dewhurst), duets with Scott Tinkler, and Chiri (trio with Bae il Dong and Scott Tinkler).
Recently, he has collaborated with numerous local and international artists including Jen Shyu, Gian Slater, Kim Hyelim, Chris Hale, Tony Malaby and Kris Davis, Jo Jonghun and Lim Mijeong (Byeolsinak), Mary Rapp and Carl Dewhurst, as well as with Henry Kaiser, Bill Laswell, and Rudresh Mahanthappa (on the 2018 recording Mudang Rock).
Along with collaborative groups Simon has performed with many of Australia’s most established ensembles including the Phil Slater Qt, Baecastuff, Matt McMahon trio, the Australian Art Orchestra, Vince Jones, Red Fish Blue, Cameron Undy’s 20th Century Dog, Stu Hunter, as well as various groups led by Scott Tinkler.
In the past he performed and recorded with a great variety of local artists and ensembles including John Sangster, Mark Simmonds’ Free boppers, Bernie McGann, Jamie Oehlers, Marc Hannaford, Don Burrows, Dale Barlow, Tim Stevens’ Trio, Sandy Evans GEST8, Mark Isaacs Trio, Judy Bailey, Ian Chaplin, James Muller, Clarion Fracture Zone, Roger Dean, Julian Wilson, James Greening. I’ve recorded over sixty CDs with local and international jazz artists including ARIA winner “Fire” by a great musical mentor, Mark Simmonds, and have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to perform with many international touring artists including Jason Moran, Marylyn Crisspell, Tim Berne, Joe Lovano, Ed Schuller, Makoto Kuria, Claire Martin, Sheila Jordan, Gary Smulyan, John Hicks and Carlos Ward.