Simon H. Fell  simon h. fell ....selected press quotes

"a major contemporary musician" The Penguin Guide To Jazz On CD
"a powerful influence on the new music scene" Signal To Noise
"Fell thinks at lightning speed: he plays with an alertness that won't hear of any slackness in the music. He's the best kind of virtuoso." BBC Music Magazine
"Simon Fell is a performing musician of the highest order who seeks the bridge the gap that has arisen between contemporary composition and free improvisation. And Fell actually knows how to write for the symphony orchestra - his music reveals a knowledge and understanding of Varèse, Birtwistle and Stockhausen. By studiously avoiding the slickness of cut'n'splice postmodernism (compare Fell's work with Zorn's: both express their deep admiration for the contemporary classical and free jazz/improv repertoires, but their compositional approaches are a world apart), Fell doesn't - won't - make things easy for you, but he makes it abundantly clear that to get anything out of music you have to be prepared for the long haul." Signal To Noise
"If you haven't checked out Fell's music, I suggest strongly that you do so soon. He's made some of the most exciting improvised music to come out of Britain." Cadence
"There are few musicians with ambition equal to that of Simon Fell. His determination to externalise sounds that crowd his mind's ear has resulted in some exhilarating, challenging, and at times creatively perverse recordings." The Wire
"By any account, Simon Fell is one of the most important musicians working today. As improviser, composer, and musical organizer, the depth and range of his music is truly staggering." Signal To Noise
"For those unfamiliar with Fell, he is one of England's and perhaps the world's most creative bassists and composers." Cadence
"A leading figure on the improvised music scene in the UK, both as a first-call bass player, and as a leader and composer." Jazz On 3, BBC Radio 3
"Simon Fell is probably England's most distinguished composer for improvisers... he's a Lenin in a sea of mediocre anarchy." Resonance FM
"His integration of improvisation with 'classical' composition on such releases as Kaleidozyklen, Thirteen Rectangles, and Composition No. 30 are probably unmatched both for audacity and thoughtfulness (and thats no mean feat). In his works, youll find blues, Boulez, Ellingtonia, Stockhausen, Taylor, and noise - not just slapped together, but organically merged." Bagatellen
"Fell exemplifies the truly integrated composer/musician" One Final Note
"Simon H. Fell is a singular presence in modern music" Double Bassist Magazine
"Bassist/composer Simon H. Fell is one of the leading lights of the British improv scene. Possessed with both striking ambition and a bounty of talent, Fell has been involved with a wealth of projects of all shapes and sizes, perhaps most significantly The London Improvisers Orchestra and the Hession/Wilkinson/Fell trio. Sadly, Fell continues to be somewhat under-recognized, despite his exceptional technical skills and compelling compositional aspirations." One Final Note
"There are few musicians whose work spans as broad a range as Simon Fell. As composer, improviser, and accomplished bass player, Fell's restless creativity consistently shines through in a mind-boggling range of contexts. What is astonishing, though, is how he manages to pull all of his various interests together into an overarching vision." Signal To Noise
Un véritable prodige, absolument unique en son genre... un architecte hors pair pour une musique orchestrale passionnante qui mérite d'être découverte et écoutée pour son extrême et unique originalité." Orynx

bruce's fingers:
"assiduously documenting some superb music" The Penguin Guide To Jazz
"a new release from Bruce's Fingers is always a cause for celebration.....some of the finest new music from Britain." Cadence
"One of the most enterprising small independent labels around." Impressions, BBC Radio 3
"A superb record label; some of Britain's finest experimental new music." Mixing It, BBC Radio 3

the compilation series:
"some of the most vivid and creative improvisation/composition fusions in recent times......" The Penguin Guide To Jazz
"Simon Fell is a leading composer of his generation, crossing boundaries and creating music of a passion and originality unusual in Britain." The Guinness Encyclopaedia Of Popular Music
"It's hard to think of anybody in the UK among the jazz-related musicians of his generation.....who is working on this scale and with such audacious inventiveness." The Wire
"The sharpest dialogue between composition and improvisation realised by any English composer." Resonance
"Fell is laying the foundations for utopian music-making beyond the divide. Serious stuff: the debate about 2lst-century music starts right here. A:1*"  Hifi News & Record Review
" Composition No. 30 must be recognised as a significant event for British jazz." Improjazz
"I am starting to believe that Simon H. Fell is one of the most important composers alive, and releases like this just make the case more cut-and-dried by the minute." RESONANCE
"The monumental Composition No.30 is, in my view, an important monument in the history of late 20th Century music. Nothing less than a summing up and distillation of the experimental strains of Western music at the end of the millennium. One of the most important musical works to come out of Britain since the Sixties." Cadence
"Fell has worked through several major modern musical developments this century, and made them work that bit better." The Sound Projector
"Composition No. 30 is a new landmark in the building of a boundless music: a Tower of Babel being built by a utopian engineer of sound. This work, at the same time both precomposed yet truly open to freedom, must mark the beginning of a new era." Jazz Magazine
"This is truly a land-mark recording in contemporary music" Signal To Noise
"The lifetime masterpiece by a major contemporary musician - except, of course, Fell is hopefully going to be delivering much more music to us yet." The Penguin Guide To Jazz On CD
"Composition No. 30 combined advanced serial composition, skronk improvisation and xenochronous, overlayered recording with a finesse that staggered listeners." Signal To Noise
"Composition No. 62 explodes, bubbling and rippling with details that cumulatively knock you back on your earhole. It's as if Fell notated the first moments in the existence of some universe whose fundamental property was sound itself, examining its richness from every possible angle." Dusted

"We are talking the essence of what makes jazz great here." THE WIRE
"One of the most exciting groups currently working." NOTES
"Remind yourself of how creative, urgent and beautiful jazz can be." YORKSHIRE POST
"Involvement and intensity, invention and insurrection.....manna from heaven.....Superb." HIFI NEWS & RECORD REVIEW
"There probably isn't such a thing as state-of-the-art free music, but as a term of convenient endearment, it's close enough." THE GUARDIAN

"There's passion, intellect and first-rate group interaction. What more can one ask from a contemporary improvising trio?" CADENCE
"An energetic trio, this group plays improvised music with relentless passion and virtuosity." OPTION
"There's an exceptional level of communication between the musicians here. When the group is in full flight the flux of energy is incredible." IMPROJAZZ

"Put this alongside the most important trios in the jazz and improvised saxophone tradition." IMPROJAZZ

"Bassist Simon H. Fell produces flawless improvisations, it seems, with an awesome regularity these days, and Descension's new disc Live, March 1995 is no exception." CADENCE
"A glorious cascade of music that proves it is precisely the pursuit of pure energy and dissonant thrill that can make something vital out of improvisation.....It has the gauntlet-in-the-face impact of music that changes lives." THE WIRE
"The way Descension rearrange the building blocks of rock begs comparison with bebop's rewrite of Broadway. Simply put: music to bet your life on." HIFI NEWS & RECORD REVIEW
"Watching this beautiful, jagged noise split the audience into warring camps felt like one of the great countercultural blows of the 90s." THE WIRE

"IST operate at such a pitch of invention they transcend the divide between art and science." HIFI NEWS & RECORD REVIEW
"An extraordinary record. This is truly collective music, beautifully self-contained and perfect as it is." AVANT
"IST play gorgeous realtime realspace musique concrète. Subliminal sensitivity to scratch and distortion produces ear-fixating suites." HIFI NEWS & RECORD REVIEW
"IST have developed into a leading force in improvised and creative music, pushing the limits of acoustic string music beyond existing boundaries." RESONANCE
"Ghost Notes will become an "instant improvised classic"! Impressive enough to rate a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer." THE IMPROVISOR

"VHF have produced music of rare democratic brilliance, a music that eschews virtuosity in favour of a group aesthetic." AVANT

"Outstanding! We were hugely impressed by the way Thirteen Rectangles dealt with the inherent problem of composing for improvisers. Simon Fell is at the forefront of developing musical structures which release - rather than constrain - his collaborators." JAZZ ON 3, BBC RADIO 3
"Captured in one breathtaking take, Thirteen Rectangles is an exceptional work. Even though the piece is scored for small group, Fell thinks big, leaving plenty of room for solo playing. The music draws jazz, free Improvisation and post-serial composition into the same gravitational field, where they hybridise and mutate. It's edgy and insistent, characterised by "neurotic rhythms". The players chisel away repeatedly at Fell's deliberately meagre allocation of thematic material, but he has jettisoned the formulaic cycles of standard jazz composition in favour of "mobile form". Written and improvised passages are heard in combination throughout. This complex, stimulating simultaneity sets up exhilarating juxtapositions and conjunctions that rise through the music's continually shifting layers. Fell strives to actualise the music he wants to hear but which doesn't yet exist. His creative vision and individual labour might prepare the ground, but it's the personality and abilities of the performers that bring his concept to fruition. He's fortunate to have such dedicated, ingenious collaborators, who each bring a distinctive slant to unlock the composition's abundant potential." THE WIRE
"In the context of Sonic Youth's embrace of 'noise', where a mistaken - hazy and depoliticised - notion of '60s freedom has been mixed with dubious poses derived from the Velvet Underground and marketed as 'avant', bassist/composer Simon Fell's crystalline music is like a bucket of water so chill it's icy. Although he uses the full capabilities of his non-pareil improvisors, as tunesmith Fell is picking up on mid-'70s Anthony Braxton, when that amazing saxophonist was developing something new in terms of composition. The way quasi-traditional forms (Rectangle 6 is a New Orleans strut, Rectangle 10 a blues) break into abstraction is seamless. Fell hears the pressures and tensions of modernists like Varèse and Feldman in jazz, so this is not some polystylistic experiment in collage and the music is mercifully free of the tongue-in-cheek smartness of the downtown crew. The musicians play in parallel lines, accumulating arguments which may suddenly explode into transgressive outbursts, giving the music the poignancy and tension of first time sex between besotted lovers. The last time anything as pure as Rectangle 10 was recorded in England, it was by Joe Harriott.  Today's scene badly needs this earnestness. A:1*" HIFI NEWS
"Simply put, Thirteen Rectangles is a major work and thus, is one of the most important releases of 2002. I found it to be a rewarding listen and frankly, have reached the conclusion that Fell has truly created his masterpiece." CADENCE
"Featuring gnarly counterpoint, telepathic call and response sections, collective improvisation, dynamic tempo shifts and solo cadenzas, this is all-encompassing music, bridging the tenuous divide between the composed and improvised. With an ensemble so perfectly in tune with the composer's conception, one would be hard pressed to distinguish the improvised from the composed on these pieces. For those looking for the future of creative improvised music, Four Compositions is a must-have album." CADENCE

"Fell's Composition No.57: Kaleidozyklen, receiving its world premiere, is the latest in a long line of works that have seen him wrestling with a bewildering array of self-inflicted musical challenges, not least of which is how do you get a large orchestral group to improvise freely around a system of musical notation and not end up making a meaningless racket? Somehow on this occasion, the University's contemporary music ensemble pulls it off. How they do it, or indeed what exactly it is that they are doing, remains a mystery. The warm response to the piece left Fell beaming with joy. "I hope you find it as disconcerting as I do," the composer wrote in the programme. Don't worry, Simon. We did." THE GUARDIAN
"Kaleidozyklen will have plenty of surprises in store for the patient listener long after Zorn's pretty but somewhat vapid recent compositions have yielded up their secrets." SIGNAL TO NOISE

photo © Jo Fell 2004

SHF info:
compositions list with performance & discographical details
photos for download
thumbnail biography

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