Commissioned by BBC Radio 3 with an ensemble including Tim Berne, Joe Morris, Rhodri Davies, Jim Denley, Alex Ward & Steve Beresford, this amazing work is organized in traditional movements using a very modern and free language.
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Label: Clean Feed
Catalog ID: CF 230
Squidco Product Code: 14780
Packaging: Cardstock foldover
Recorded live at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (UK) on November 25th, 2007.
Jim Denley-piccolo, concert flute, alto flute, bass flute
Andrew Sparling-Eb clarinet, Bb clarinet, bass clarinet
Alex Ward-Bb clarinet
Tim Berne-alto saxophone
Damien Royannais-baritone saxophone, Eb tubax
Joby Burgess-tuned percussion, concert percussion
Philip Thomas-piano, celesta
Joe Morris-electric guitar
Steve Beresford-electronics, conduction
Simon H. Fell-doublebass, electronics
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1. Movt. I 16:52
2. Who's The Fat Man? 1:18
3. Movt. II 4:47
4. FZ pour PB 6:24
5. Movt. III 13:00
6. Graphic Description 4 3:31
7. Movt. IV 4:08
8. Plusieurs Commentaires de PB pour DR 5:36
9. Movt. V 23:32
European Improv, Free Jazz & Related
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
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"Positions & Descriptions was commissioned by Jazz On 3, with funds provided by BBC Radio 3; in particular, this project would not have been possible without the consistent support and undeviating commitment of Robert Abel / Produced by Simon H. Fell / Executive production by Trem Azul / Design by Travassos
"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 new schools 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 commissioned by 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 band music of the 21st century. Remarkable!"-Clean Feed Records
At The Squid's Ear!
• Show Bio for Andrew Sparling
"Andrew Sparling has played guest principal clarinet with many UK orchestras, including the BBC Scottish, Philharmonia, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, London Sinfonietta, Sinfonia ViVA, New Kent Opera and Grange Park Opera.
Andrew also appears regularly with many of the most important Contemporary Music Ensembles in the UK, including the Almeida Opera, Apartment House, Chroma, Double Image, Ensemble Exposè, Gemini, Lontano and the Michael Nyman Band.
As a soloist and chamber musician Andrew performs regularly with the pianist, Thalia Myers and he has also joined the Brindisi Quartet to perform the Mozart Clarinet Quintet, and also the first performance of Gabriel Jackson's Quintet: In Prairial and Thermidor. Andrew has given solo and chamber recitals in the UK, Europe, USA, the Far East and the Middle East.
Andrew has been invited to give recitals at the London Festival of Chamber Music, run by the English String Quartet, every year since 2001
In May 2000, he made his concerto debut at the Royal Festival Hall with the Philharmonia playing the Capriccio Notturno by the French composer, Nicholas Bacri.
Andrew also performs on period instruments, and plays principal clarinet in Charles Hazelwood's orchestra The Mozart Collective, taking part in the BBC 2 drama-documentary series "The Genius of Mozart" broadcast in 2004. Andrew acted the role of clarinettist Anton Stadler and the photo in Andrew's photo gallery (click on the RHS Photo Gallery link) shows him rehearsing Mozart's Clarinet Quintet with the composer. He has since played principal clarinet with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (including a run of Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride at Covent Garden, on baroque clarinets), Classical Opera Company, Armonico Consort and the Tallis Scholars."-Morgensterns (http://www.morgensternsdiaryservice.com/WebProfile/sparling_a_713.shtml)
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• Show Bio for Alex Ward
"Alex Ward was born in 1974. He is a composer, improviser, and performing musician. His primary instruments are clarinet and guitar, and he has also performed in public and on recordings on alto sax, piano/keyboards, bass guitar, and as a vocalist. He was based in Oxford from 1992-2000, and since then has lived in London.
His involvement in freely improvised music dates back to 1986, when he met the guitarist Derek Bailey. As an improviser, he was initially principally a clarinettist (sometimes also playing alto sax), but since 2000 he has also been active as an improvising guitarist. On both instruments, hIs longest-standing collaborations in this field have been with the drummer Steve Noble.
From 1993 to 2001, most of his activity as a composer took place in collaboration with Benjamin Hervé, mainly in the context of the rock band Camp Blackfoot. From 2002-2005, his writing was mostly done solo, and was primarily focused on songs. Since 2006, he has been heavily involved in both solo and collaborative composition, predominantly (though not exclusively) of instrumental music. Much of his writing and performing during this time has been done with Dead Days Beyond Help, a duo with drummer Jem Doulton. He also currently leads a number of bands including Predicate, Forebrace, The Alex Ward Quintet/Sextet, and Alex Ward & The Dead Ends.
He has been a member of many other groups including ensembles led by Eugene Chadbourne, Simon H. Fell and Duck Baker, and has also done various work as a session musician and in collaboration with other media. Since 2005, he has co-run the label Copepod Records with composer/performer Luke Barlow. He does the recording, mixing and/or mastering of most of his own music, and for many of the groups he plays in."-Sites.Google.com (https://sites.google.com/site/alexwardmusician/biography)
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• 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 Joe Morris
"Joe Morris was born in New Haven, Connecticut on September 13, 1955. At the age of 12 he took lessons on the trumpet for one year. He started on guitar in 1969 at the age of 14. He played his first professional gig later that year. With the exception of a few lessons he is self-taught. The influence of Jimi Hendrix and other guitarists of that period led him to concentrate on learning to play the blues. Soon thereafter his sister gave him a copy of John Coltrane's OM, which inspired him to learn about Jazz and New Music. From age 15 to 17 he attended The Unschool, a student-run alternative high school near the campus of Yale University in downtown New Haven. Taking advantage of the open learning style of the school he spent most of his time day and night playing music with other students, listening to ethnic folk, blues, jazz, and classical music on record at the public library and attending the various concerts and recitals on the Yale campus. He worked to establish his own voice on guitar in a free jazz context from the age of 17. Drawing on the influence of Coltrane, Miles Davis, Cecil Taylor,Thelonius Monk, Ornette Coleman as well as the AACM, BAG, and the many European improvisers of the '70s. Later he would draw influence from traditional West African string music, Messian, Ives, Eric Dolphy, Jimmy Lyons, Steve McCall and Fred Hopkins. After high school he performed in rock bands, rehearsed in jazz bands and played totally improvised music with friends until 1975 when he moved to Boston.
Between 1975 and 1978 he was active on the Boston creative music scene as a soloist as well as in various groups from duos to large ensembles. He composed music for his first trio in 1977. In 1980 he traveled to Europe where he performed in Belgium and Holland. When he returned to Boston he helped to organize the Boston Improvisers Group (BIG) with other musicians. Over the next few years through various configurations BIG produced two festivals and many concerts. In 1981 he formed his own record company, Riti, and recorded his first LpWraparound with a trio featuring Sebastian Steinberg on bass and Laurence Cook on drums. Riti records released four more LPs and CDs before 1991. Also in 1981 he began what would be a six year collaboration with the multi-instrumentalist Lowell Davidson, performing with him in a trio and a duo. During the next few years in Boston he performed in groups which featured among others; Billy Bang, Andrew Cyrille, Peter Kowald, Joe McPhee, Malcolm Goldstein, Samm Bennett, Lawrence "Butch" Morris and Thurman Barker. Between 1987 and 1989 he lived in New York City where he performed at the Shuttle Theater, Club Chandelier, Visiones, Inroads, Greenwich House, etc. as well as performing with his trio at the first festival Tea and Comprovisation held at the Knitting Factory.
In 1989 he returned to Boston. Between 1989 and 1993 he performed and recorded with his electric trio Sweatshop and electric quartet Racket Club. In 1994 he became the first guitarist to lead his own session in the twenty year history of Black Saint/Soulnote Records with the trio recording Symbolic Gesture. Since 1994 he has recorded for the labels ECM, Hat Hut, Leo, Incus, Okka Disc, Homestead, About Time, Knitting Factory Works, No More Records, AUM Fidelity and OmniTone and Avant. He has toured throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe as a solo and as a leader of a trio and a quartet. Since 1993 he has recorded and/or performed with among others; Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Joe and Mat Maneri, Rob Brown, Raphe Malik, Ivo Pearlman, Borah Bergman, Andrea Parkins, Whit Dickey, Ken Vandermark, DKV Trio, Karen Borca, Eugene Chadborne, Susie Ibarra, Hession/Wilkinson/Fell, Roy Campbell Jr., John Butcher, Aaly Trio, Hamid Drake, Fully Celebrated Orchestra and others.
He began playing acoustic bass in 2000 and has since performed with cellist Daniel Levin, Whit Dickey and recorded with pianist Steve Lantner.
He has lectured and conducted workshops trroughout the US and Europe. He is a former member of the faculty of Tufts University Extension College and is currently on the faculty at New England Conservatory in the jazz and improvisation department. He was nominated as Best Guitarist of the year 1998 and 2002 at the New York Jazz Awards."-Joe Morris Website (http://www.joe-morris.com/biography.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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• Show Bio for Mark Sanders
"Mark Sanders has played with many renowned musicians including Roscoe Mitchell, Wadada Leo Smith, Derek Bailey, Henry Grimes, Roswell Rudd, Peter Brotzmann, Barry Guy, Otomo Yoshihide, Jah Wobble, Sidsel Endresen , Charles Gayle, Peter Evans and William Parker. He works with John Edwards in a duo and with groups including Evan Parker, `Foils` with Frank Paul Schubert and Matthius Muller and groups with Veryan Weston, John Tilbury, Agusti Fernandez and Mathew Shipp. Mark works in a regular improvising duo with John Butcher and also performing John`s composition `Tarab Cuts` which has played festivals in Rio de Janiero, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Glasgow, Bristol and London. In a trio with cellist Okkyung Lee, John and Mark have played in Belgium, France, England and Scotland. He also has a longstanding duo with Sarah Gail Brand which has featured on the BBC`s `The Stuart Lee Show`and in the film `Taking the dog for a Walk`.
He has performed solo for a Christian Marclay exhibition at The White Cube Gallery in London, Evan Parker`s festival`Unwhitstable` in Wroclaw, Poland for `Solos Festival` The 100 Years Gallery London, an improvised music series in Derby and Cafe Oto in London. Working with Christian Marclay in his `Everyday` piece for film and live music, he has performed in Aldeburgh, Ruhr Trienalle, Vienna Bienalle, Holland festival and London`s QEH and has also collaborated with him playing for the film `Screenplay`in London and Lisbon. In situations using composition in one form or another Mark works in various projects including `13 Vices` with Brian Irvine/Jennifer Walshe, Alex Hawkins Ensemble featuring Peter Evans, Simon Fell Ensembe, groups with Hasse Poulsen and Luc Ex , Sarah Sarhandi`s `Both Universe`, Elaine Mitchener`s `Sweet Tooth` and has played in the groups of Shabaka Hutchings including`Sons of Kemet` Conceptual Artist Sam Belinfante collaborated with Mark in his piece `On the One Hand, and the Other` in two exhibitions at Camden Arts Centre, London For Conceptual artist Henrik Hakensen`s film `The End` he has performed as an improvising soloist with orchestras conductedd by Jessica Cottis, playing the music of John Coxon in Glasgow, Sydney and Monte Carlo As a guest with New York`s ICE Ensemble he has performed John Zorn`s `The Tempest` in London and at Huddersfield New Music Festival.
Mark also works in the groups of Paul Dunmall including Deep Whole Trio with Paul Rogers, in duo and `Frisque Concordance` with Georg Graewe , and the ensembles of Mikolaj Trzaska, Uwe Oberg and Peter Jaquemyn. He has performed in the USA, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Morrocco, South Africa, Australia, Mozambique and Turkey, playing at many major festivals including Nickelsdorf, Riga, Ulrichsburg, Glastonbury, Womad, Vancouver, Isle of Wight, Roskilde, Berlin Jazz days, FMP, Mulhouse, Luz, Minniapolis, Banlieue Bleues, Son D`hiver and Hurta Cordel."-Mark Sanders Website (http://www.marksanders.me.uk/biography.html)
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