Reviews that mention Simon H. Fell

August 17, 2020

Virtual Company

Virtual Company
Confront core series/core 12

A gimmick that transcends its gimmickry, Virtual Company is a purposeful matching of live and pre-recorded sounds from living and dead musicians to sophisticatedly create a never to be repeated concert. Unlike other discs which grafted a modern rhythm section onto Charlie Parker solos or used technology to forge a duet between Natalie and Nat King Cole, bassist Simon H. Fell used random algorithms to organize a live session featuring the on-the-spot improvising of himself and cellist Mark Wastell with fragments taken from solos by guitarist Derek Bailey (1930-2005) and tap dancer Will Gaines (1928-2014), separated by numerous pre-recorded silences. Critically this experiment works even better as an audio session than it probably did at the London club in which it was created. For while the live audience would have noted the absence of two players all are aurally present during the over 46½ minute performance. MORE

April 26, 2012

Hession/Wilkinson/Fell

Two Falls & A Submission
Bo’Weavil weavil 44 CD

Avram Fefer/Eric Revis/Chad Taylor

Eliyahu

Not Two MW-854-2

Blunt, powerful, unrelieved improvisation is the collective raison d’être of these sessions, which conclusively emphasize the polyphonic textures that arise from the intersection of a mere three acoustic instruments. Naturally it helps that the six players involved are experienced technically and committed to sonic exploration.

The variables are partially transatlantic. Alto and tenor saxophonist Avram Fefer, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Chad Taylor are American; alto and baritone saxophonist Alan Wilkinson, bassist Simon H. Fell and drummer Paul Hession are British. Besides this, the nine tracks Fefer recorded in studio are dedicated to the memory of his late father; the three extended tracks on the other CD were recorded during a rare club gig by Hession, Wilkinson and Fell. MORE

January 5, 2012

SFE

Positions and Descriptions
Clean Feed CF 230 CD

By Ken Waxman

For the past 20-odd years as “Butch” Morris has demonstrated conduction: structuring free improvisation using a specific series of hand gestures, many improvising ensembles have been created in his its wake. Whether groups use or not signals developed by Morris to rearrange and sculpt notated and non-notated music, conduction is part of their inventory. As these releases demonstrate however, it depends on individual musicians’ skills for a performance to be fully satisfying. MORE

November 21, 2010

A New Pulse:

Another Timbre welcomes both established and younger improvisers
By Ken Waxman

Frustration, altruism and a sudden monetary windfall were the contributing factors that led Simon Reynell to found the Sheffield England-based Another Timbre record label (www.anothertimbre.com) in 2006. After more than two dozen releases – both on CD and CD-R – it’s now acknowledged as an artistic success.

A sound recordist for television and someone who has been “passionately into experimental music” for around 35 years, Reynell had become increasingly frustrated by what he calls the “dumbing down” of TV programming to reality and celebrity-oriented shows from the sort of proper documentaries on which he works. An unexpected inheritance gave him some capital and Another Timbre (AT) was born. Initially setting out to present the work of young improvisers involved in drummer Eddie Prévost’s 10-year-old weekly London workshop, the catalogue has expanded to include not only improvisers from outside the United Kingdom, but also established stylists such as pianist Chris Burn and sound-singer Phil Minton. MORE

July 23, 2010

Burns/Thomas/Fell

The Middle Distance
Another Timbre at24

Diatribes/Demierre/Bourquenez

Piano(s)

Insubordinations insubdr 05

Not your parents’ piano duos, these prime slabs of first-class improv should banish any memories of the achievements of Albert Ammons & Pete Johnson, Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington or even Jaki Byard & Howard Riley. Moving one step beyond the Jazz and Free Jazz of these earlier keyboard meetings, both British pianists Chris Burn and Philip Thomas on The Middle Distance and the Swiss-French recital featuring Jacques Demierre and Johann Bourquenez utilize so many extended techniques and unique string-and-key variants in their joint narratives that at times the pure piano-ness of the instrument almost vanishes into abstraction. Additionally the polyphonic textures supplied by bassist Simon H. Fell on The Middle Distance, and from drummer Cyril Bondi and electronic treatment from D’incise on Piano(s), become as much part of the interface with the pianos as they exist on their own. MORE

October 18, 2008

Carlos Zíngaro/Dominique Regef/Wilbert De Joode String Trio

Spectrum
Clean Feed CF 110CD

ZPF Quartet

Ulrichsberg München Musik

Bruce’s Fingers BF 67

T.E.C.K. String Quartet

T.E.C.K. String Quartet

Clean Feed CF 089CD

Three plus one times two or two plus one times one. These may seem like ambiguous mathematical formulae, but they’re actually the personnel make-up of these exceptional string-informed CDs.

The “one” here, is Portuguese violinist Carlos Zingaro. His associates include three different bassists: American Ken Filiano (on T.E.C.K.), Englishman Simon H Fell (on Ulrichsberg) and on Spectrum, Wilbert De Joode from the Netherlands; two different cellists: London-based Marcio Mattos (on Ulrichsberg) and New York’s Tomas Ulrich (on T.E.C.K.); plus odd-ball instruments – for string groups – of drums (London’s Mark Sanders on Ulrichsberg); acoustic guitar (New York’s Elliott Sharp on Spectrum); and hurdy-gurdy (France’s Dominique Regef on Spectrum). MORE

October 18, 2008

ZPF Quartet

Ulrichsberg München Musik
Bruce’s Fingers BF 67

T.E.C.K. String Quartet

T.E.C.K. String Quartet

Clean Feed CF 089CD

Carlos Zíngaro/Dominique Regef/Wilbert De Joode String Trio

Spectrum

Clean Feed CF 110CD

Three plus one times two or two plus one times one. These may seem like ambiguous mathematical formulae, but they’re actually the personnel make-up of these exceptional string-informed CDs.

The “one” here, is Portuguese violinist Carlos Zingaro. His associates include three different bassists: American Ken Filiano (on T.E.C.K.), Englishman Simon H Fell (on Ulrichsberg) and on Spectrum, Wilbert De Joode from the Netherlands; two different cellists: London-based Marcio Mattos (on Ulrichsberg) and New York’s Tomas Ulrich (on T.E.C.K.); plus odd-ball instruments – for string groups – of drums (London’s Mark Sanders on Ulrichsberg); acoustic guitar (New York’s Elliott Sharp on Spectrum); and hurdy-gurdy (France’s Dominique Regef on Spectrum). MORE

October 18, 2008

T.E.C.K. String Quartet

T.E.C.K. String Quartet
Clean Feed CF 089CD

Carlos Zíngaro/Dominique Regef/Wilbert De Joode String Trio

Spectrum

Clean Feed CF 110CD

ZPF Quartet

Ulrichsberg München Musik

Bruce’s Fingers BF 67

Three plus one times two or two plus one times one. These may seem like ambiguous mathematical formulae, but they’re actually the personnel make-up of these exceptional string-informed CDs.

The “one” here, is Portuguese violinist Carlos Zingaro. His associates include three different bassists: American Ken Filiano (on T.E.C.K.), Englishman Simon H Fell (on Ulrichsberg) and on Spectrum, Wilbert De Joode from the Netherlands; two different cellists: London-based Marcio Mattos (on Ulrichsberg) and New York’s Tomas Ulrich (on T.E.C.K.); plus odd-ball instruments – for string groups – of drums (London’s Mark Sanders on Ulrichsberg); acoustic guitar (New York’s Elliott Sharp on Spectrum); and hurdy-gurdy (France’s Dominique Regef on Spectrum). MORE

May 1, 2006

BADLAND

The Society of the Spectacle
EMANEM 4120

HESSION/WILKINSON/FELL (HWF)
Bogey’s
Bruce’s Fingers BF 31

Chapters in what could be termed the parallel life of Simon H. Fell, these CDs expose the free improvisational side of the British bassist, whose usual renown is for partially notated compositions for massive orchestras plus electronically oriented music for strings and percussion.

BOGEY’S recorded in 1991, and THE SOCIETY OF THE SPECTACLE captured nearly 12 years later, are significant wedges of instant composition, performed by two different trios. With Fell’s double bass the only constant, BOGEY’S features his longtime playing partners, Alan Wilkinson on alto and baritone saxophones and wilkophone (sic) plus Paul Hession on drums. Described elsewhere as HWF, this band contrasts with the 10-year-old Badland trio that is filled out by alto saxophonist Simon Rose and percussionist Steve Noble. Coincidentally Noble recently recorded a trio CD with Wilkinson and veteran bassist Marcio Mattos. MORE

January 30, 2006

IAN SMITH/SIMON H. FELL/HARRIS EISENSTADT

K3
Bruce’s Fingers BF 58

HARRIS EISENSTADT
Ahimsa Orchestra
Nine Winds NWCD0237

Having established himself with hard work as an in-demand percussionist and band leader in Los Angeles, Toronto-born Harris Eisenstadt is branching out. He’s traveling to the East Coast, Europe and Africa to match wits with his improvising contemporaries and writing more involved compositions for larger ensembles.

K3 is an example of the former, where he hooks up with British-born bassist Simon H. Fell, who now lives in France, and Dublin-born, London-based trumpeter Ian Smith. Conversely the Ahimsa Orchestra is a local project, featuring the percussionist, conductor Omid Zoufonoun and two differently constituted, 12-piece ensembles running through two of Eisenstadt’s compositions, the three-part “Non-Violence” and the four-section “Relief”. Kudos must go to the young drummer for attempting different projects. However, while he fits comfortably with Smith and Fell, his reach seems to have exceeded his grasp with the 67-minute CD by the band named with Mahatma Gandhi’s word for enemy-loving non-violence. MORE

December 12, 2005

Ward/Barlow/Fell/Noble

Help Point
Copepod Records

RARA Ensemble
Ora!
Zrec/Rara

By Ken Waxman
December 5, 2005

Superficially similar, these two unusual quartets are built around the talents of clarinetists – an instrumentation more common in 1945 than 2005. Yet while both the Italian RARA ensemble and the British band led by Alex Ward feature piano, double bass and drums as well, the results on these debut CDs herald an intriguingly individual identity for each.

Each of the Italians comes to RARA with impressive fluency and education in the jazz, New music and classical fields. Milan-based Bb, alto and bass clarinettist Giancarlo Locatelli and pianist Alberto Braida from Lodi both recorded with German bassist Peter Kowald and played with reed stylists ranging from American Steve Lacy to Wolfgang Fuchs from Berlin. Bassist Gianfranco Tedeschi, one of the curators of Rome’s improvised music festival, also composes for theatre as does Locatelli, while Braida teaches piano, harmony and improvisation as well. Drummer Fabrizio Spera is member of a variety of working bands with the likes of Fuchs and British saxophonist John Butcher. MORE

September 26, 2005

LONDON IMPROVISERS ORCHESTRA

Responses, Reproduction & Reality
EMANEM 4110

Outgrowth of a Butch Morris-led conduction that took place in London a few years ago, the London Improvisers Orchestra (LIO) has evolved into a once-a-month gig where some of the British capital’s best improvisers get together to try out new ideas.

Involving a revolving cast of 30-plus players as well as different conductors and composers, the LIO has taken on an identity far beyond that of a BritImprov kicks band. However as these seven tracks, recorded at 2003’s and 2004’s Freedom of the City festivals demonstrate, the outcome is still inconsistent. MORE

January 31, 2005

SFQ [SIMON FELL QUARTET/QUINTET]

Four Compositions
Red Toucan RT 9376

Over the past 20 years, Yorkshire bassist Simon H. Fell has segmented his work between writing large scale compositions for massive orchestras of horns, strings, brass, percussion and electronics and playing bass as part of turbulent improv combos -- usually in trios with a saxophonist and drummer

Four Compositions, a two-CD set, appears to be an almost wholly successful attempt to reconcile the formal and audacious parts of his musically schizophrenic personality. As a matter-of-fact, while the first disc, subtitled “Three Quintets” shows how far he has evolved in creating for his by then-established quintet, “Liverpool Quartet”, for an even smaller group confirms that accomplished creations can result from an even-more-relaxed milieu first time out. MORE

September 1, 2004

ASK

The formulary of curses
Discus

By Ken Waxman

September 1, 2004

Five years into the 21st century, British composer/saxophonist Martin Archer must occasionally allow himself the odd smile of satisfaction.

Beginning his career in the early 1980s as a improv saxophonist, by the mid-1990s the Sheffield-based musician immersed himself in creating relationships between electronics, technology and improvisation. Integrating random events and sound material into his recorded work before that idea become generally accepted, early on his partially notated/partially improvised sound collages showed the sort of musical maturity that it would take others years to attain. MORE

March 8, 2004

AVRAM FEFER

Shades of the Muse
CIMP #286

ROLAND RAMANAN
Shaken
EMANEM 4081

Matching a horn with a chordal instrument, bass and drums has long been an accepted jazz strategy. But as Free Jazz has muted into Free Music, fresh front lines have replaced the horn-and-guitar or horn-and-piano set up. Case in point these two CDs, one British, and one American, both of which feature a cellist upfront.

Firmly in the new tradition that welcomes new sounds, SHADES OF THE MUSE, the Yank disc is the fourth recent session lead by multi-reedist Avram Fefer. Here he’s partnered by cellist Tomas Ulrich plus Ken Filiano on bass and Jay Rosen on drums, all experienced in the karma of exploratory playing. Across the pond, SHAKEN is the debut disc for trumpeter Roland Ramanan, a full-time educator as well as a member of the London Improvisers Orchestra (LIO). His crew of veterans and fellow LIO members is made up of Marcio Mattos on cello and electronics, Simon H. Fell on bass and percussionist Mark Sanders. MORE

March 10, 2003

HESSION, WHARF & FELL

Improvabilly
Bruce’s Fingers BF 44-CD

Described as by the musicians involved as “manic free jazz”, IMPROVABILITY is the first recording in 10 years by the power trio of Charles Wharf on woodwinds, bassist Simon H. Fell and drummer Paul Hession.

Yet while it doesn’t detract from the pile- driver authority of the session -- or the trio members -- by also asking: “is it just like the old days?” the response is what they probably wouldn’t expect. Yes, not only does the sound compare favorably to other Fell- Hession trios like the one with saxophonist Alan Wilkinson, it also suggests the gut-wrenching eruptions of even earlier free jazz bands such as those led by saxophonists Albert Ayler, Frank Wright and Peter Brötzmann and the heyday of the New Thing. MORE

January 27, 2003

IMPROVISERS 1988-1998

By Jo Fell
Bruce’s Fingers 42

Lively arts of about the same vintage, photography and improvised music seem to have a potent relationship to one another. Think of how our view of early jazz and blues performers like King Oliver, Fats Waller and Blind Lemon Jefferson has been influenced by how they appear in their pictures. There are even a few, like the legendary New Orleans cornettist Buddy Bolden, who only exist in one snapshot and old-timers’ memories.

More recently, the moody introspective photos of Herman Leonard, all pinpoint details and curling cigarette smoke, defined Bebop for many people. The bright, outdoor portraits of William Claxton did the same for Cool Jazz. MORE

January 13, 2003

Simon H. Fell

Composition No. 30.
Bruce’s Fingers BF 27

The compositions and performance of British bassist Simon H. Fell on this two-CD set may be the long-awaited physical flowering of Gunther Schuller’s and John Lewis’ ideas from the 1960s. Fell may also have taken those theories even further.

In the early 1960s, Schuller, a modern composer, French hornist and head of Boston’s New England Conservatory; and Lewis, pianist and music director of the Modern Jazz Quartet; conceived of Third Stream music that would combine elements of music’s first and second streams of classical music and jazz. They recorded a few albums and even put together a mixed jazz and classical ensemble called Orchestra USA. MORE

January 13, 2003

IST

Ghost Notes
Bruce’s Fingers BF 28

A string trio with a difference, IST explores both notated and improvised music with a line up of cello, double bass and harp. But considering its members -- cellist Mark Wastell, harpist Rhodri Davies and bassist Simon H. Fell -- have wide experience on both sides of the divide created by music paper, there’s no disconnect when it comes to the performances or instrumentation.

It’s often said in reviews that one can’t tell where the written music ends and the improvisations begin, but that isn’t a problem with this disc. The compositions by Phil Durrant, Stace Constantinou, Gusto Pryderi Puw, Carl Bergstrøm-Nielson, Wastell and Fell are clearly labeled, as are the four improvisations. What is more noteworthy, though, is that by using extended techniques and preparations, IST pushes its acoustic string instruments to the limit to create this thought-provoking CD, its third. MORE

September 30, 2002

BADLAND

Axis Of Cavity
Bruce’s Fingers BF 40

SFQ
Thirteen Rectangles
Bruce’s Fingers BF 43

Simon H. Fell doesn’t see consistency as a virtue. “My type of listener,” he once said, “would be someone who would pick up one of my records and say, ‘What the hell is he doing now? I’m intrigued … I’ll find out’.” Over the course of his 20-odd years of playing what he describes as “experimental music”, The Cambridge, England-based bassist and composer has involved himself in varied improv situations. MORE

September 16, 2002

COXHILL/HASLAM/HESSION/RUTHERFORD/FELL

Termite one
Bruce’s Fingers BF 32

Climb into a time machine and travel back 1989 in Yorkshire, England when the weather was autumnal cool, but enough heat was being generated from an ad hoc collection of improvisers to incinerate a block of council flats.

Souvenir of Leeds’ first Termite Festival, this CD should demolish the idea that all British improv is hushed and effete as completely as termites devour wood. As a matter of fact, there are times while listening to the almost 49-minute disc, that it sounds as if the two saxophonists, one trombonist, bassist and drummer are hungrily chomping through the music the way soft bodied white ants wreck havoc on a house’s structure. MORE

July 27, 2000

MARTIN ARCHER

Winter Pilgrim Arriving
DISCUS 12CD

Martin Archer/Simon H. Fell
Pure Water Construction
DISCUS 11CD

Some musicians who have already researched the outer limits of jazz and improv music are still looking for new areas to investigate. One bit of uncharted territory -- the intersection of improvisations, the mechanics of chance and electronic gadgetry -- fascinates Martin Archer. And these two quite different discs offer a glimpse into his thought processes.

Initially a free jazz saxophonist and composer, Sheffield, England-based Archer has spent most of the past decade immersing himself in the mechanics of electroacoustic music. Both these CDs involve music played by him and others in real time then twisted, turned, tweaked and mixed with other samples to create a new soundscape. When it succeeds it transports the adventurous listener who often can't identify the source of an individual tone; when it doesn't it becomes merely self-indulgent.

MORE