Simon joined NYJO in the 1980s after earlier playing in North London’s Young Jazz orchestra. His first professional gigs were in TV studio orchestras, working on shows like Morecambe and Wise, Surprise Surprise, New Faces and other light entertainment shows.
He has toured with Buddy Rich, Frank Sinatra, The Who, Tom Jones, Cliff Richard and, more recently, Robbie Williams and has, over the course of the last 30 years, performed or recorded with nearly every major artist in the world including, amongst others, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis, Barbra Streisand, Michael Bublé, Rod Stewart, Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder, Shirley Bassey and the Spice Girls.
Simon has his own big band – the Si Gardner Big Band, which he formed after leaving NYJO – with the aim of bringing together the cream of London’s studio players to play the music they love and cherish. The band has performed at all the usual jazz venues in London and has played host to every top player in the capital over the past three decades. Its repertoire is a mixture of tried and tested great American stock arrangements and original British charts.
He has also formed a band with his NYJO Academy trumpet-playing son Tom, called Gardner’s Candoli – a tribute to the great trumpeter Conte Candoli, his shared love of jazz and the resulting wonderful musical collaborations he had with his brother Pete.
Between working in recording studios, in theatre bands and playing first trumpet in fellow NYJO alumnus Dave Arch’s Strictly Come Dancing Orchestra, Simon has also written Trumpet Masterclass – a tutor book on the art of trumpet playing – as a help to anyone who either wants to learn to play the instrument or wishes to further develop their existing playing technique.