Simon H. Fell

Posted on April 3, 2008










Simon H. Fell studied double bass under Peter Leah at Batley Grammar School and Huddersfield Polytechnic. By the age of 16 he was playing professionally, accompanying some of the world’s most renowned cabaret performers at the legendary Batley Variety Club. He received his M.A. from Cambridge University in 1984, having studied at Fitzwilliam College.
He is best known as a composer/performer in the fields of improvised music, contemporary composition and experimental jazz, where his reputation has grown consistently since 1983; he is described by the Penguin Guide To Jazz as “a very fine instrumentalist (with) a fine technique and a great flow of ideas.”
He has been awarded numerous Bursaries and Grants from the Arts Council of England and other organisations to further his performing technique and compositional studies, with the resulting work touring nationally in 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998 and 2001. Over ninety recordings of works/performances have been issued.
Performing units Wilkinson/ Hession/ Fell, Fell’s improvising trio with Alan Wilkinson and Paul Hession was one of the earliest units to receive great acclaim; other regular or occasional groupings include the trio Something Else with Mick Beck, Badland, the Brötzmann/Wilkinson Quartet, VHF, Butch Morris’ London Skyscraper, Derek Bailey’s Company, The Arc with Orphy Robinson and the string trio IST. His own composition-based groups include SFQ with Alex Ward, Gail Brand, Alex Maguire & Steve Noble, SFD, SFT.He has also 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, Han Bennink, Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo and numerous others, and is a founder member of London Improvisers Orchestra.
Festival appearances (UK): Oxford Jazz Festival, Company Week, Outside In Festival, Leeds’ Termite Festival, Other Music Festival (Sheffield), Cambridge Conference of Contemporary Poetry, SPNM Oneday at the ICA, LMC Festival, London Jazz Festival, Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Unsung Music Festival at The South Bank, Oxford Festival of Contemporary Music, Manchester World Music Days, Leicester Jazz Festival, Stirling Le Weekend, Manchester Jazz Festival, Manchester New Music Festival, Freedom of the City Festival, Open Ears FestivalFestival & club appearances (International): Company Week in New York, Leipzig Jazztage, Sound Symposium (Newfoundland), Groupe de Recherche d’Improvisation Musicale 20th anniversary series (Marseille), Porto European City Of Culture, Total Music Meeting (Berlin), Nickelsdorf (Austria), Zurich, Köln, Stakkato (Berlin), Contemporaneamente 2002 (Lodi, Italy), Guimarães Jazz Festival (Portugal), Poetry & Music: Liège (Belgium).
His compositions, in both jazz, classical and ‘fourth stream’ idiom, have been performed throughout Britain and have been broadcast on BBC Radios 3 & 4, UK Independent Radio, the BBC World Service and radio or television stations in France, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Holland, Australia, Canada and the U.S. He has presented compositions for improvisers at the LMC Festival, the Termite Festival, the Frakture Festival, Leo Records’ Unsung Music Festival, Sheffield’s Open Ears Festival, Stirling’s Le Weekend and the Freedom of the City Festival.
His researches into concert music and ‘fourth stream’ composition continue, particularly focussed on advanced composition for musicians from improvised music and jazz traditions. He has had commissions from, among others, the Arts Council of Great Britain, Eastern Arts, Anglia Polytechnic University, Leeds University and Yorkshire & Humberside Arts. He is described by the Guinness Encyclopaedia of Popular Music as “a leading composer of his generation, crossing boundaries and creating music of a passion and originality unusual in Britain”.
His 1998 2-hour 42-piece ensemble work Compilation III was recorded by the Royal Northern College of Music Big Band in collaboration with improvisers drawn from several English cities. His compositions for London Improvisers’ Orchestra include Papers, Happy Families, Köln Klang, Ellington 100 (Strayhorn 85), Morton’s Mobile, Too Busy and Three Mondrians. Compositions for SFQ include Thirteen Rectangles, Six Bells Pieces and …the old style…. Kaleidozyklen, his large-scale piece for improvising double bassist and orchestra was premiered (with Fell as soloist) in November 2000. 2001 saw a Radio 3 ‘Jazz On 3’ broadcast of Thirteen Rectangles Version 2, which was repeated in 2002; (the work was subsequently nominated for the ‘new work’ award in the 2002 BBC Jazz Awards);Too Busy was broadcast by BBC Radio 3 in 2002, and three extended compositions for quintet (Köln Klang, Trapped By Formalism 2 and Gruppen Modulor 2) were specially recorded for and broadcast by ‘Jazz On 3’ in August 2003. He now lives in France.




Chris Burn / Philip Thomas / Simon H. Fell : The Middle Distance (Another Timbre Cd 2010)

Joe Morris / Simon H. Fell / Alex Ward : The Necessary And The Possible (Victo, 2009)

London Improvisers Orchestra : Improvisations For George Riste (Psi, 2008)

The Mancini Project : Views Of Mancini (FMR, 2008)

ZFP Quartet : Ulrichsberg München Musik (Bruce’s Fingers, 2007)

Brötzmann/Wilkinson Quartet : One Night In Burmantofts (Bo’weavil, 2007)

Philip Thomas: Comprovisation (Bruce’s Fingers, 2006)

V/A: Freedom Of The City 2005 (Emanem, 2006)

Roland Ramanan: Caesura (Emanem, 2006)

Ist: Lodi  (Confront Collectors Series, 2006)

Simon H. Fell: Composition No. 62 (Bruce’s Fingers, 2005)

London Improvisers Orchestra : Responses, Reproduction & Reality  (Emanem, 2005)

Su Lyn: Clay Angels (Bruce’s Fingers, 2005)

Badland: Society Of The Spectacle (Emanem, 2005)

Alex Ward/ Luke Barlow/ Simon H. Fell/ Steve Noble: Help Point (Copepod, 2005)

Zfp Quartet: Music For Strings, Percussion & Electronics (Bruce’s Fingers, 2005)

Ian Smith/ Simon H. Fell/ Harris Eisenstadt: K 3 (Bruce’s Fingers, 2005)

Ask : The Formulary Of Curses (Discus, 2004)

Martin Archer : Heritage And Ringtones (Discus, 2004)

Sfq : Four Compositions: (Red Toucan, 2004)

London Improvisers Orchestra : Freedom Of The City 2002 (Emanem, 2003)

Simon H. Fell: 44.1 + 56 (Irrational Arts 7inch, 2003)

Live-Tempera : Friendly Faces (Artpartout Cd-Extra, 2003)

Freedom Of The City 2001 : Large Groups (Emanem, 2002)

Total Music Meeting 2001 : Audiology – 11 Groups Live In Berlin (All, 2002)

Badland : Axis Of Cativity (Bruce’s Fingers, 2002)

Sfq : Thirteen Rectangles (Bruce’s Fingers Cd 2002)

Hession/Wharf/Fell : Improvabilly (Bruce’s Fingers, 2002)

Simon H. Fell: Kaleidozyklen (Bruce’s Fingers, 2002)

Derek Bailey & Simon H. Fell : 15 August 2001 (Sound 323, 2002)

Roland Ramanan : Shaken (Emanem, 2002)

Bailey/Davies/Fell/Gaines/Wastell : Company In Marseille (Incus, 2001)

London Improvisers Orchestra : The Hearing Continues (Emanem, 2001)

Amere3 : Trees (Whi Music, 2001)

Hession/Wilkinson/Fell : Bogey’s (Bruce’s Fingers, 2000)

Coxhill/Haslam/Hession/Rutherford/Fell : Termite One (Bruce’s Fingers, 2000)

London Improvisers Orchestra : Proceedings (Emanem, 2000)

Hession/Wilkinson/Fell : St. John’s (Ecstatic Peace!, 2000)

Vhf : Extracts (Erstwhile, 1999)
Simon H. Fell : Composition No. 12.5 (Bruce’s Fingers, 1999)

Graham Halliwell & Simon H. Fell : 9 Points In Ascent (Bruce’s Fingers, 1998)

Charles Wharf & Simon H. Fell : Frankenstein (Bruce’s Fingers, 1998)

Simon H. Fell : Composition No. 30 (Bruce’s Fingers, 1998)

Ist : Ghost Notes (Bruce’s Fingers, 1998)

Martin Archer/Simon H. Fell : Pure Water Construction (Discus, 1998)

Hession/Wilkinson/Fell + Joe Morris : Registered Firm (Incus, 1998)

Something Else : Playing With Tunes (Bruce’s Fingers, 1997)

Cosmonauts Hail Satan : Mortuary Sorcery (Suggestion, 1997)

Descension : “My Middle Name Is Funk” (Amanita, 1997)

Gramophone Explorations : Volume Two (Gramophone,1997)

Ist : Consequences (Of Time And Place) : (Confront, 1997)

Ist : Anagrams To Avoid (Siwa, 1997)

Resonance : Volume 6 Number 1 (Resonance, 1997)

Unknown Public : 07 The Netherlands Connection (Unknown Public, 1996)

Martin Archer : Ghost Lily Cascade (Discus, 1996)

Various : This Music Is Silent Until You Listen (Discus, 1996)

Su Lyn : Lines Of Desire (Bruce’s Fingers, 1995)

Simon H Fell : Music For 10(0) (Leo, 1995)

Badland : Badland (Bruce’s Fingers Cd 1995)

Cosmonauts Hail Satan : A Beautiful Girl Like You/Mystery Mountain (Death By Blowjob 7inch, 1995)

Descension : Live, March 1995 (Shock, 1995)

Network : Volume Two (Discus Cd 1995)

Hession/Wilkinson/Fell : The Horrors Of Darmstadt (Shock, 1994)

Unknown Public : 04 Musical Machinery (Unknown Public, 1994)

Something Else : Start Moving Earbuds (Bruce’s Fingers, 1994)

Network : Volume One (Discus Cd 1994)

Unknown Public : 02 Common Ground (Unknown Public, 1993)

Unknown Public : 03 Pianoforte (Unknown Public, 1993)

V/A: The Saxophone Phenomenon (Slam Cd 1992)

Hession/Wilkinson/Fell : Foom! Foom! (Bruce’s Fingers, 1992)

Persuasion A : Two Steps To Easier Breathing (Bruce’s Fingers, 1988

Charles Wharf/Simon H. Fell : Pride And Prejudice (Bruce’s Fingers, 1987)

Simon H. Fell: Compilation I (Bruce’s Fingers, 1985)


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