Simon H. Fell

Composition No. 30: Compilation III

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The third release of the Compilation Series, this double CD contains a spectrum of bassist/composer Simon Fell's revolutionary, complex, and convincing work for small and large groups. At its best, this music has the expanse and stature of the seminal works of Ellington, with sweeping themes, emotional intensity, and stunning improvisations. Fell incorporates postmodern classical techniques, traditional jazz harmonies, and very abstract compositions, played by groups ranging from the trio through huge conglomerations that include strings, harp, electric guitars, bassoon, and contrabassoon, as well as the usual jazz band instruments. Fell cites Mingus, Ives, and Cage as influences, and they are all here, but he stamps them with his own zany imprimatur. As a bassist, he writes comfortably for strings, although less so for brass, favoring the woodwinds. He seems to particularly enjoy juxtaposing odd combinations, such as piccolo with contrabassoon. Soloists include saxophonists John Butcher, Mike Beck, and Alan Wilkinson, harpist Rhodri Davies, contrabass clarinetist Charles Wharf, percussionists Mark Sanders and Paul Hession, and Fell on harpsichord, prepared piano, and bass. A major highlight is called "Part 3: Blues," which successfully and fascinatingly applies serialism to this art form.

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