Alex Simu is an award-winning, internationally acclaimed clarinetist, saxophonist, and composer. Born in Romania, Simu followed a music education from a young age. In pursue of an international music career, he moved to the Netherlands at age 22, where he began his studies at the Prins Claus Conservatory in Groningen, obtaining a Bachelor degree in Jazz Saxophone, followed by a Masters degree from the Amsterdam Conservatory. In 2007 he received an HSP Huygens scholarship to study at the Manhattan School of Music in New York. In 2008 he was awarded the First Prize of the Utrecht Holland Casino Jazz Contest. The same year he won first prize of the Dutch Jazz Competition at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, and in 2009 was awarded with the EBU jazz scholarship, and became a member of the European Jazz Orchestra for the project Swinging Europe lead by Peter Herbolzheimer. After completing his studies, Alex Simu co-founded the Dutch-based quartet Arifa. Their debut album Beyond Babylon was released in 2010, followed by Anatolian Alchemy in 2012. Both albums were awarded the Best World Music Release of the year in the Netherlands, and distinguished with 5 stars by various publications. In 2017, Alex Simu released Echoes of Bucharest, his debut album as a band leader together with his quintet. The release at Bimhuis in Amsterdam was highly received by the national press.
Also a film music composer, Alex Simu has worked since 2010 on a great number of award-winning international film productions. In 2016, he was awarded with the Golden Calf by the Dutch Film Academy for the Best Music of Beyond Sleep.
Since 2015, Simu is the main subject teacher at the Codarts University for the Arts in Rotterdam within the jazz and world music departments. He is active in the field of organology and clarinet synthesis, and has innovated the tenor clarinet, as well as brought into contemporary use the alto clarinet, clarinet d’amour, and the bass clarinet d’amour.
Active on the jazz and world music scene since 1999, Alex Simu performed and toured professionally in 41 countries over 5 continents, and shared the stage with important figures such as Alvin Queen, Brian Lynch, Benny Golson, Bennie Wallace, Peter Herbolzheimer, Mari Boine, Jorge Reyes, Naseer Shamma, Ghalia Benali, Aynur Dogan, Arto Tuncboyaciyan, and many others.
"Adventurous and stunningly beautiful. How much it was shared with the audience was evident from the daunting discharge after the end of the first set: an applause eruption that lasted so long that it seemed almost as if the final was reached." – Ton Maas, MixedWorldMusic
"Alex Simu shows his versatility and sense of beauty by playing clarinet in a style that unites his native city of Bucharest and his current city of Amsterdam. From a completely integral attitude, the quintet made the Balkan songs with their melancholy and beautiful melodies. Amsterdam seemed a little like Bucharest tonight." – Het Parool
"The venue was so full that a part of the audience was standing around the corner and could not see the band playing on the stage. But we heard clarinet, piano, viola and bass which where blending Romanian folkloric sounds with subdued, Norwegian quietness in long, poetical compositions. Those who could not see the band where enjoying with their eyes closed, leaning against the wall." – Dagblad van het Noorden
"Undoubtedly virtuosic, with an emotional depth that you would expect from a veteran like Ivo Papasov." - DeVolksktrant
"A tenor sound like Sonny Rollins, blended with Balkan wizardly staccatos." - Leidsche Dagblad
"His music creates dialogues and passages where the existence of unspoken text is present in the imagination of each listener." - Málaga Hoy 5