Alex Ward - clarinet Gail Brand - trombone Alex Maguire - piano Simon H. Fell - double bass Steve Noble - drums
compositions and arrangements for quintet by Simon H. Fell
"Outstanding. Simon Fell is at the forefront of developing musical structures which release - rather than constrain - his collaborators." Jez Nelson JAZZ ON 3, BBC RADIO 3
Thirteen Rectangles by SFQ nominated for the 'new work' award; BBC Jazz Awards 2002
"Captured in one breathtaking take, Thirteen Rectangles is an exceptional work. The music draws jazz, free improvisation and post-serial composition into the same gravitational field, where they hybridise and mutate. 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. The way quasi-traditional forms 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 last time anything as pure as Rectangle10 was recorded in England, it was by Joe Harriott. Today's scene badly needs this earnestness." HIFI NEWS
"Unmissable." THE GUARDIAN
"A witty, swinging and joyfully audacious synthesis of free improvisation, experimental jazz and modernist composition." LMC
"Fell is one of the most interesting and consistently successful composers working with improvisers today." RESONANCE
"For those unfamiliar with Fell, he is one of England's and perhaps the world's most creative bassists and composers. 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
"By any account, Simon Fell is one of the most important musicians working today. Recorded in one take, Thirteen Rectangles' mutable amalgam of improvisation and composition can swing like mad or move into thorny freedom with split-second shifts of direction as the focus moves around the ensemble. This is a startling and exhilarating work that easily shoots to the top of any list of the year's best releases." SIGNAL TO NOISE
"With this two-disc set of quintets and quartets (Four Compositions), composer/bassist Simon Fell demonstrates that his brilliant eclecticism is as vibrant as ever. This may be "difficult" music, but it is also exuberant." Walter Horn BAGATELLEN
"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. Four Compositions is another in a series of not-to-be-missed records from the courageous Fell. Utilizing his broad influences, Fell has crafted these statements into a singular vision that is both a challenge and delight for listener and performer alike. If you miss this one, you are missing out big time." Jay Collins ONE FINAL NOTE
"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." Troy Collins CADENCE
The original SFQ1 (with Simon Vincent on drums) was brought together for the first time in the Autumn of 1999, with Steve Noble replacing Simon Vincent in January 2001. Commissions for the group have so far included Thirteen Rectangles for the 1999 Termite Festival, ...the old style... for Eastern Arts and Six Bells Pieces (for quintet & tape) for the Haverhill Festival. In May 2001, the quintet recorded Thirteen Rectangles for broadcast by BBC Radio 3's Jazz On 3 in November 2001. The broadcast was repeated in February 2002.
November 2001 also saw the group's first UK tour, for Jazz Services. During a 10-day period the quintet visited 6 cities and gave 6 performances of Thirteen Rectangles Version 2, along with 4 performances each of Trapped By Formalism 2, Köln Klang and Cambridge Surprise Minor.
2003 included a performance at Sheffield's Open Ears Festival, along with a recording of Trapped By Formalism 2, Köln Klang and Gruppen Modulor 2 for Radio 3's Jazz On 3, broadcast in August.
The group's first CD - a studio recording of Thirteen Rectangles - was released by Bruce's Fingers in May 2002.
The group's second CD (shared with SFQ2) - Four Compositions - was released by Red Toucan in December 2004.
For further information, other examples of the group's music, or details of fees, availability, contact:
Bruce's Fingers, c/o Simon Fell, 29 Teillet, 23400 St. Dizier-Leyrenne, FRANCE
noble brand maguire fell ward
Alex Ward first came to prominence for his work with Derek Bailey & Company, and his duo with Steve Noble. Since 1993 he has been working with Switch in The 13 Ghosts, and is a member of Camp Blackfoot. He has also worked with Eugene Chadbourne, Butch Morris, Thurston Moore and doubtless a host of others.....
Gail Brand is active in both jazz and improvised music, and is a powerful presence on the London scene. She studied composition with Veryan Weston & Eddie Parker, and music with Chris Batchelor & Stuart Hall; in the last few years she has worked with Billy Jenkins, Veryan Weston, London Skyscraper, Mingus Moves & Lunge (with Phil Durrant, Pat Thomas & Mark Sanders).
Alex Maguire studied with Howard Riley, Andrew Ball and John Cage and went on to co-found the Ping Pong Club with Steve Noble. This led to performing with Evan Parker, Toshinori Kondo, Tristan Honsinger, Phil Minton, Paul Rutherford, Tony Oxley etc. Alex is currently a member of the Michael Moore Quartet (with Mark Helias and Han Bennink), Sean Bergin's M.O.B. (with Wolter Wierbos and Han Bennink) and Elton Dean's Newsense (featuring Roswell Rudd, Annie Whitehead and Paul Rutherford). Additionally, he has worked with Theatre de Complicité, Entertainment Machine and the National Theatre and is a tutor at the Glamorgan Jazz Summer School.
Simon Fell is a composer and double bassist active in free improvisation and contemporary jazz and chamber music. He has worked in small or medium groups with John Butcher, Peter Brötzmann, Lol Coxhill, Billy Jenkins, Joe Morris, Keith Tippett, John Zorn, Derek Bailey, Joey Baron, Elliott Sharp, Billy Bang, Christian Marclay and numerous others, and is a founder member of London Improvisers Orchestra. Other regular groupings include IST, Mick Beck's Something Else, Hession/Wilkinson/Fell and many more. He has presented compositions for improvisers at the LMC Festival, the Termite Festival, the Frakture Festival, Leo Records' Unsung Music Festival, Freedom of the City Festival and on many other occasions. His discography includes over 80 recordings. "A major contemporary musician" - The Penguin Guide To Jazz On CD.
Steve Noble first came to public attention with Rip Rig and Panic, but has since become one of the most dynamic performers in English Improvised Music. He performs in numerous groups, including The Shakedown Club, 4tet & Company, and with Peter Brötzmann, Johannes Bauer, Butch Morris, Otomo Yoshihide, Evan Parker and (of course) many others. International festival appearance include Geneva, Pisa, Genova, Barcelona, Köln, Nickelsdorf & New York. His Company Week appearances include 1987, 1989 & 1990, and he duetted with Alex Ward for Channel 4's Improvisation documentary series. "One of the country's most creative drummers" decreed The Guardian.
some press responses to other Fell composition projects:
"The debate about 2lst-century music starts right here." HIFI NEWS & RECORD REVIEW
" 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
"Composition No. 12.5 is a remarkable piece of work. In short, we have a potential classic here.....Brilliant." THE WIRE
"Some of the most vivid and creative improvisation/composition fusions in recent times." THE PENGUIN GUIDE TO JAZZ ON CD, LP & CASSETTE
" Fell's serialist tenets are radically energised by the shades of Mingus and Dolphy, while the baggy excesses which can mar jazz or extended free improvisation have been pared away, leaving finely variegated and beautifully balanced compositions." THE WIRE
" Remarkable for its ambitious objective as well as the means employed, Composition No. 30 must be recognised as a significant event for British jazz." IMPROJAZZ
"Two hours of music, 42 musicians, one mad genius at its centre. I am starting to believe that Simon H. Fell is one of the most important composers alive, and releases like Composition No. 30 just make the case more cut-and-dried by the minute." RESONANCE
"The monumental Composition No. 30, is an important monument in the history of late 20th Century music. In this single piece one finds not only Ives, Webern, Cage, Ligeti, Partch, and Boulez, but also Ellington, Mingus, Sousa, Sun Ra, and even a little urban blues. It's as if all of Braxton's varied and copious output were microscoped into one audacious work for large ensemble. Fell seems to me to have created a piece of music on the level of Boulez' Pli Selon Pli and Ives' Holidays Symphony. Fell's Composition No.30 for Improvisers, Big Band and Chamber Ensemble is nothing less than a summing up and distillation of the experimental strains of Western music at the end of the millennium. It's a resounding success; a modern masterpiece. Composition No. 30 should not only be considered as one of the top ten recordings of the year, but (move over all you Cardews, Birtwistles and Ferneyhoughs!) as one of the most important musical works to come out of Britain since the Sixties." CADENCE
"Listening to this music, I feel as if it is an inexhaustible document - that there is more substance, more happening than I could ever take in. Composition No. 30 is truly a land-mark recording in contemporary music." SIGNAL TO NOISE
"Composition No. 30 is 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
photo: © Jo Fell
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