Unconvention improvisation fueled by the influence of contempary compositions from bassist Simon H. Fell, pianist Philip Thomas, and prepared pianist Chris Burn.
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Label: Another Timbre
Catalog ID: AT24
Squidco Product Code: 12711
Packaging: Jewel tray, not sealed.
Recorded by Simon Reynell at St. Paul's Hall, University of Huddersfield, February 18, 2009
Philip Thomas-prepared piano
Simon H. Fell-doublebass
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1. Looking Ahead, Seeing Nothing 12:31
2. Not with the fire in me now 13:25
3. All Moved 6:20
4. Never Knew Such Silence 7:40
5. Looking Back, Remebering Little 12:58
Related Categories of Interest:
European Improv, Free Jazz & Related
Piano & Keyboards
London & UK Free Improvisation Scene
sample the album:
"The Middle Distance - featuring Simon H Fell (bass), and pianists Chris Burn and Philip Thomas - draws on a bountiful reservoir of experimental histories. Thomas is known for his performances of Cage and 'complexity' composers like Michael Finnissy; in 1993 Burn issued a disc of piano music by pioneering American composer Henry Cowell, although his interest in composed means has been overshadowed by his reputation as an improvisor. Thomas, playing prepared piano, remains sonically distinst from Burn, but the music manages a noticeably unified soundworld. Fell leaves conventional bass rhetoric far behind as the musicians consciously match up their timbres; at 2'55" on track four, their extended techniques flow into a microtonal patois that trashes instrumental allegiance."-Philip Clark, The Wire
• Show Bio for Philip Thomas
"Philip Thomas (b.1972, North Devon) specialises in performing new and experimental music, including both notated and improvised music. He places much emphasis on each concert being a unique event, designing imaginative programmes that provoke and suggest connections.
He is particularly drawn to the experimental music of John Cage, Morton Feldman and Christian Wolff, and composers who broadly work within a post-Cageian aesthetic. In recent years he has been particularly associated with the music of Christian Wolff, giving the world premiere of his Sailing By in 2014 and Small Preludes in 2009, the UK premiere of Long Piano (Peace March 11), having co-edited and contributed to the first major study of Wolff's music, Changing the System: the Music of Christian Wolff, published by Ashgate Publications in 2010, and currently recording all of Wolff's solo piano music for sub rosa. He is an experienced performer of John Cage's music, having performed the Concert for piano and orchestra with both Apartment House and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company as well as most of the solo piano and prepared piano music, including a unique 12-hour performance of Electronic Music for piano
He has commissioned new works from a number of British composers whose ideas, language and aesthetic have been informed in some ways by the aforementioned American composers, such as Stephen Chase, Laurence Crane, Richard Emsley, Christopher Fox, Bryn Harrison, John Lely, Tim Parkinson, Michael Parsons, and James Saunders.
In recent years Philip has pursued a passion for freely improvised music, after significant encounters with the music of AMM and Sheffield-based musicians Martin Archer, Mick Beck and John Jasnoch. He has worked with improvisers in a variety of contexts and recently devised a programme of composed music by musicians more normally known as improvisers as well as others who have been influenced by improvisation in some form. This led to a CD release, Comprovisation, which featured newly commissioned works by Mick Beck, Chris Burn and Simon H Fell. Other CD releases include music by Martin Arnold, Laurence Crane, Christopher Fox, Jürg Frey, Bryn Harrison, Tim Parkinson, Michael Pisaro, James Saunders, Christian Wolff, as well as with improvisers Chris Burn and Simon H Fell.
Philip is a regular pianist with leading experimental music group Apartment House, with whom he has performed in festivals across the UK and Europe. He has also performed with the Quatuor Bozzini, and in duos with Mark Knoop, Ian Pace and John Tilbury (piano duet and two pianos) and James Saunders (electronics).
In 1998 Philip was awarded a PhD from Sheffield University in the performance practice of contemporary piano music. Between 2000 and 2005, he was Head of the Sheffield Music School whilst pursuing an active performing and teaching career. He joined the staff team at the University of Huddersfield in 2005, and became Professor of Performance in 2015. Philip is one of the Directors of CeReNeM, the University's Centre for Research in New Music. He continues to live in Sheffield, where he premieres the majority of his programmes, with his wife Tiffany and children Naomi and Jack."-Philip Thomas Website (http://www.philip-thomas.co.uk/biog.html)
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• Show Bio for Simon H. Fell
Simon H. Fell (b. Dewsbury, Yorkshire, 13 January 1959) is a bassist and composer; he is primarily known for his work as a free improviser and the composer of ambitiously complex post-serialist works.
Fell began playing double bass in 1973. From 1978 to 1981 he read English Literature at Fitzwilliam College of Cambridge University, an interest that led to ties to many of the poets associated with the Cambridge scene (a later work, Music for 10(0), involves settings of texts by the poet/music journalist/provocateur Ben Watson).
Fell's most notable early group was a group with drummer Paul Hession and saxophonist Alan Wilkinson, a free-jazz trio that was exceedingly fast and furious even by the standards of that genre. Their work was primarily released as cassettes and CDs on Fell's label Bruce's Fingers, including Bogey's and the group's only studio album, foom! foom! Their most sonically extreme statement, however, was the grainily recorded The Horrors of Darmstadt (Shock). (Its title is a sarcastic quotation from a BBC announcer concerning the avant-garde Darmstadt School of composers.)
Other groups in which Fell is or was a member include the free jazz trio Badland (led by saxophonist Simon Rose; initially the drummer was Mark Sanders, with Steve Noble subsequently taking over the role), the improvising string+percussion ensemble ZFP (with Carlos Zingaro, Marcio Mattos and Mark Sanders), and SFQ, a quartet/quintet with changing membership, though clarinettist Alex Ward has been a constant. (Fell's 2001 version of his 70-minute SFQ composition Thirteen Rectangles was broadcast twice by the BBC and subsequently nominated for the 'new work' award in the 2002 BBC Jazz Awards.) In sharp contrast to the uproar of Hession/Wilkinson/Fell, the trio IST (with Rhodri Davies and Mark Wastell) was one of the seminal groups in the development of the ultra-quiet aesthetic now generally called "EAI" or "electroacoustic improvisation". Fell has also performed in many other ensembles, including the London Improvisers Orchestra and Derek Bailey's Company Week.
Fell's major sequence of compositions is titled Compilation (to date, four such projects have been issued). Despite the governing title, these are not collections of previous material but new, large-scale works. The musical language makes overt use of serialist procedures (such as tone rows, retrograde structures, &c), as well as many other techniques: extensive studio layering, overdubbing and reordering of material (so that seemingly "live" performances may be the result of carefully edited-together improvisations and/or notated material), and use of aleatoric techniques to "degrade" or distort precomposed structures into new shapes. Free improvisation, rock and jazz all form key parts of the musical language; one section of Compilation IV even includes a simultaneous hommage to Karlheinz Stockhausen and Henry Mancini. The cast of musicians drawn on for these pieces usually includes a mix of classically trained players, jazzers and free improvising musicians, as well as wild cards like the noise guitarist Stefan Jaworzyn. While virtuoso players such as Evan Parker and John Butcher are essential to the projects, Fell often deliberately makes use of amateur or student musicians, too, not as a makeshift but as an intentionally democratizing and less predictable element.Other large-scale composition projects include:
• his compositions for The London Improvisers' Orchestra (Papers, Happy Families, Kšln Klang, Ellington 100 (Strayhorn 85), Morton's Mobile, Too Busy and Three Mondrians) (1998-2004)
• Kaleidozyklen, a 60-minute piece for improvising double bassist and orchestra (2000)
• Thirteen New Inventions, a major solo piano piece commissioned by Philip Thomas (2005)
• the concert-length BBC Radio 3 commission, Positions & Descriptions (for 18 musicians & prerecorded materials), premiered at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (2007)
• a 1-hour suite for sextet, The Ragging Of Time, commissioned by the Marsden Jazz Festival (2014)
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