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Positions & Descriptions – Simon H. Fell Composition Nº75



Alex Ward (cl), Andrew Sparling (cl), Chris Batchelor (t), Clark Rundell (cond), Damien Royannais (bsx), Jim Denley (f), Joby Burgess (perc), Joe Morris (g), Mark Sanders (d), Mifune Tsuji (v), Philip Joseph (thn), Philip Thomas (p), Rhodri Davies (hp), Simon H. Fell (b), Steve Beresford (elec), Tim Berne (as),


Only in a recording by Simon H. Fell could you find such disparate musicians as Tim Berne, Joe Morris, Rhodri Davies, Jim Denley, Alex Ward and Steve Beresford,coming from the many tendencies existing in the jazz and freely improvised music fields. Fell himself is an example of dexterity: you can find him playing in a variety of contexts, from free jazz to both the old and newschools of the so-called “non-idiomaticism”, often incorporating elements of contemporary classical music and even rock. Separately, or all at once. This is the case in “Positions & Descriptions –Composition nº 75”, another development of his idiosyncratic orchestral concepts; this one resulting from a special circumstance: it was commissionedby BBC Radio 3. The structure of the (open, but complex) score is classical,organized by movements, and these by “positions”,”commentaries” and “descriptions”, with a rondo and a final coda. The relative conventionality of the suite format is contrasted by the materials, and in terms of resources the paradoxes keep moving things along:pre-recorded electronic elements are crossed by solo and ensemble improvisations, an occasional waltz or tango emerges in the middle of something rooted in the minds of Charles Mingus and Pierre Boulez, and free flights have the contraposition of the quotations inserted; for instance, there’s a bit of Webern’s “Variations for Orchestra Op. 30” somewhere for you to find. What has all this to do with the tradition established by Duke Ellington? More than you might think. The difference resides only in the fact that this is the big bandmusic of the 21st century. Remarkable!


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