Simon H. Fell's first album pointed obliquely in the direction he was to take leading up to his major recording in this area of composition, Composition No. 30. Using a nine-piece band, he navigates through a variety of jazzy and off-kilter works that at once pay homage to various bop-based formulas while positioning them within a postmodern context. Thus, after the piece opens with about 20 seconds of "standard" bop fare, there's about a minute of silence, then some scrabbling, then more jazz, and so on over the course of the single composition divided into a number of suite-like movements. The thematic material is fairly knotty and the balance between the natural desire on the part of the listener to hear the themes developed and Fell's stubborn unwillingness to allow things to proceed apace is alternately frustrating and exciting. Sometimes one gets the impression of Mingus in a particularly foul and devious mood, others of a mad jazz scientist run amok. The leader's work on bass, his primary instrument, is solid and deep throughout. An unusual recording, worth hearing for the groundwork it laid for later, more successful experiments.
AllMusic Review by Brian Olewnick