Late Saturday afternoon I received an e-mail from Bill Meeks. He conveyed the sad news that Jazz Piano player Sid Simmons had passed away a few hours before. Sid was a Philadelphia native and a very serious talent on piano. Of all the local and national players I heard when I owned the Jazz Club, Sid was my particular favorite. He had a light touch on the keys and a swinging Bop style that just hooked me from the first time I heard him play. He combined the class of Bill Evans with the soul and hard hitting style of Oscar Peterson. I knew Sid had been suffering from a variety of medical ailments. The last time I hung out with him in September he did not look well and his handshake seemed frail. If a guy who played thousands of hours of piano has a weak handshake...you know there is trouble.
In addition to the many hours I heard Sid play, I also spent quite a bit of time in conversation with him. After a gig, he would sit at the Bar with me and sip a Remy and talk about eveything from Jazz to Eagle's Football. He was a soft spoken and polite gentleman who enjoyed a cigar and the company of his friends.He was one of those African American cats who looked ageless. When I met him I thought he was in his early 40's when in fact he was in his late 50's. Sid always appreciated it when I would go see him play at a different venue. A few of us would cab it over to Ortlieb's Jazz Haus when Sid was playing there and it meant a lot to him that we would make the effort to see him at another joint. The Jazz world has lost a great talent and I am truly saddened. Enjoy the video of Sid playing jazz piano.