Simon Riou


Age: 30 years old

Country: France

As far back as he can remember, he has always been convinced music will play a major role in his life. All along his school career, he took courses in several music conservatories.
After getting his Baccalaureate he decided to professionalize and joined the Conservatoire de Musique de Toulouse (Toulouse Conservatory of Music) where he studied Jazz for 3 years – one of which being spent abroad, in Montréal (Québec, CAN.) This latter year was a great experience, with plenty of encounters and additional learnings, especially regarding early discovery and attempts of composition and arrangements.
In 2018, Simon applied to and entered the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris (Paris Superior National Conservatory of Music & Dance). He graduated in June 2021. During these years of intense academic courses and musical practice, he very much strengthened his skills thanks to multiple stage-sharing experiences with some of the musicians he most admires – Fred Hersch which he considers as a master of melodic development and creativity or Chris Thomas whom music approach is so authentic.
His teachers François Théberge and Vincent Lê Quang helped him in mastering his arrangement skills and perfected his saxophone techniques.

More importantly, besides his willingness to achieve very strong academic knowledge and high-valued instrumental capabilities, Simon has always been looking for a broad musical experience: He leads a quintet, inspired by the music of contemporary jazz musicians (Aaron Parks, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Kenny Wheeler…), and a trio, for which he composes music of high intensity with full of energy, he is also involved in the Orchestre Baraque à Free which is a 10ish-people ensemble, playing compositions at the crossroad of free improvisation, rock and “noise” music, he is a founding member of Ballast, a band that is very much inspired by themes from traditional Balkan and rock music and, is one of the 2 members of the A+B Duo, created with Sebastián Sarasa, a classical South American saxophonist.

For Simon, music nurtures the understanding of other people and cultures, the reason why he composes, plays, listens and still learns music from multiple fields, to open up his horizon and ultimately, create his own musical universe.

Photo credit: Fatima Jellaoui