145

SFQ: Four Compositions

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
By Ken Waxman

SFQ
Four Compositions
Red Toucan
2005

Over the past twenty years, bassist Simon H. Fell has segmented his work between writing large scale compositions for massive orchestras of horns, strings, brass, percussion 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 thenestablished quintet, "Liverpool Quartet," for an even smaller group confirms that accomplished creations can result from an even more relaxed milieu first time out.

Most impressive is the work of French hornist Guy Llewellyn. A specialist in contemporary classical performance, he brings the flexibility and colors of a slide trombone to his work here. Sharing the front line is clarinetist Alex Ward, who is also featured on the other disc. Drummer Mark Sanders is first call for many Britimprov situations, in combos or as part of the band Lunge, with trombonist Gail Brand, who also plays on the first CD.

Oddly enough, while Fell in the notes maintains that the pieces written for the concert in Liverpool captured on the second CD, reflect a move away from jazz to connect with contemporary classical and experimental music, some of the tracks appear more overtly jazzy than the pieces on disc one. Especially obvious is the transparently titled "GM2 Blues" which floats on a Mingusaian bass line from its composer. Ward's high-pitched trilling often in harmony with curt, mellow horn lines, only adds to this, as do Sanders' snare drum and percussion accents. Most audible here than anywhere else, Fell contributes pedal point action to fling the piece forward.

Notwithstanding sequenced fluttering from Sander's electronics, this jazz/improv disposition remains throughout the second two-thirds of the disc in pieces like "Quartet" and "Liverpool 2." The latter features reverberations distorting bass drum pedal pressure and hi-hat volleys with doorstopper resonation. Yet these and subsequent polyrhythmic snaps and taps from rims and cymbals conform easily with the others' output. Ward shrills chirped notes, Llewellyn's thunderous lower-pitched one and Fell's ponticello sweeps fit it all together. Finally, there's a coda of mewling smears from the clarinet, lip-buzzing police siren obbligatos from the horn and the drummer melds the textures with nearly weightless pings on his cymbals, likely produced by striking with the telescoped wire strands of brush handles.

His working group up until then, the quintet featured on "Three Quintets" intensifies the favorable impression it had already made with Thirteen Rectangles. Ward is present, along with trombonist Brand and Noble. A prime addition is Alex Maguire, a longtime mate of Noble's.

"Gruppen Modulor 2" in five sections, is the core of this performance, with Fell likening this "nearer to modern jazz," 24-minute plus composition influenced by Stockhausen, George Russell and architect Le Corbusier. Architecturally, this sound edifice seems to have been reconfigured out of many already existing structures. Beginning in the house of jazz, the first few minutes are vaguely reminiscent of Mingus' "Boogie Stop Shuffle" with walking bass, extended flams and snare beats from the drums and carefully voiced, unison horn slurs and trills. As the clarinetist double tongues in the altissimo register, pedal pressure emphasis from the piano and metronomelike time keeping from percussion keep things on an even keel.

Putting aside rhetoric, these five and four-person aggregations appear to give composer Fell the perfect vehicles for his neither-fish-nor-fowl compositions that call on more than the jazz and improv traditions. On these CDs of exhilarating writing and performance, the quartet has a slight edge. Secondly, it also wets the appetite for further large-scale works from Fell.


Track Listing: Disc 1: Composition No. 50: Kln Klang; Composition No. 40.5d: Trapped by Formalism 2; Composition No. 62b: Gruppen Modular 2. Disc 2: Composition No. 70: Liverpool Quartet: Liverpool 1a; Liverpool 1b; GM2 Blues; Quartet; Liverpool 2; GM3 Rhythm; Kandinsky Lines.

Personnel: Disc 1: Alex Ward—clarinet; Gail Brand—trombone; Alex Maguire—piano; Simon H. Fell—double bass; Steve Noble—drums. Disc 2: Alex Ward—clarinet; Guy Llewellyn—French horn; Simon H. Fell—double bass; Mark Sanders— drums and electronics.


Track Listing: Disc 1: Composition No. 50: Kln Klang; Composition No. 40.5d: Trapped by Formalism 2; Composition No. 62b: Gruppen Modular 2. Disc 2: Composition No. 70: Liverpool Quartet: Liverpool 1a; Liverpool 1b; GM2 Blues; Quartet; Liverpool 2; GM3 Rhythm; Kandinsky Lines.

Personnel: Disc 1: Alex Ward--clarinet; Gail Brand--trombone; Alex Maguire--piano; Simon H. Fell-- double bass; Steve Noble--drums. Disc 2: Alex Ward--clarinet; Guy Llewellyn--French horn; Simon H. Fell--double bass; Mark Sanders-- drums and electronics.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Red Toucan Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Tim Bowness: Lost in the Ghostlight Extended Analysis Tim Bowness: Lost in the Ghostlight
by John Kelman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Way Down Inside: Songs of Willie Dixon Extended Analysis Way Down Inside: Songs of Willie Dixon
by Doug Collette
Published: February 18, 2017
Read Chicago II (Steven Wilson Remix) Extended Analysis Chicago II (Steven Wilson Remix)
by John Kelman
Published: February 12, 2017
Read The Rolling Stones: Blue and Lonesome Extended Analysis The Rolling Stones: Blue and Lonesome
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 27, 2016
Read Nat Birchall: Creation Extended Analysis Nat Birchall: Creation
by Phil Barnes
Published: November 23, 2016
Read "Bob Cooper: Four Classic Albums" Extended Analysis Bob Cooper: Four Classic Albums
by David Rickert
Published: March 12, 2016
Read "Nik Bartsch's Mobile: Continuum" Extended Analysis Nik Bartsch's Mobile: Continuum
by John Kelman
Published: April 15, 2016
Read "U.K.: Ultimate Collectors' Edition" Extended Analysis U.K.: Ultimate Collectors' Edition
by John Kelman
Published: September 25, 2016
Read "Snowboy and the Latin Section: New York Afternoon" Extended Analysis Snowboy and the Latin Section: New York Afternoon
by Phil Barnes
Published: April 21, 2016
Read "Ali Farka Toure with Ry Cooder: Talking Timbuktu" Extended Analysis Ali Farka Toure with Ry Cooder: Talking Timbuktu
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: May 22, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!