ist (The Improvising String Trio) of Rhodri Davies (harp), Simon H. Fell (bass) and Mark Wastell (violincello) performing at The Natural Music Club in London, 1997, using unorthodox techniques in indeterminate systems and free improvisation for fascinating results.
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Catalog ID: ccs 25
Squidco Product Code: 18751
Country: Great Britain
Packaging: CDr in a tin case
Reissue of 1997 Confront CDr album.
Recorded at The Natural Music Club, in Stockwell, London, England, on April 9th,1997 by Mark Wastell.
Simon H. Fell-doublebass
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1. Buntata Le Rusg 6:45
2. Betingo! 16:23
3. Improvised Explosive Device 8:44
4. Joe Parsley 17:34
5. Tangled Mess... A Cross Section 1:29
6. Broad Strokes (For Franz Kline) 9:07
lowercase, micro-improv, sound improv
London & UK Improv & Related Scenes
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"The Improvising String Trio is a group which sets out to explore extended techniques within the territory of the extreme avant garde classical tradition. The combination of harp, cello and bass may have been a matter of accident rather than design, but the concentration on acoustic stringed instruments lends both an unusual range and an enviable specificity to the group sound. They eschew fully notated pieces in favour of either indeterminate systems or completely free improvisation, largely because conventional notation has not a hope of capturing their individual vocabularies. In concert they can be heard performing aleatoric works specially commissioned for the group; here, the focus is on sponteneous group interaction.
Davies is probably the only player around making such extensive use of preparations on the harp; and he proves that such an approach can bear fruit in an improvising context. Wastell's cello is a source of some beautifully-controlled harmonic clusters, while Fell, who is rapidly becoming one of our most respected composers for improvisers as well as one of the finest British bass players of his generation, has a hundred ways to make a noise with his bass aside from actually playing notes. For much of the time, however, these noteworthy individual voices are surrendered to the greater cause of the group sound. All three are often immersed in an anonymous scratching-and-rattling which superficially implies that their instruments are under attack from hungry chickens, but which actually contains a wealth of detailed melodic and rhythmic information relating directly to its larger musical context.
Each piece seems to begin with one player's gesture, which it proceeds to explore, elaborate on and ultimately move beyond. The group cover the whole spectrum from near-silence to high-energy screaming, normally in a controlled but organic way. Although influenced by Cage's anything-can-happen philosophy, at their best they maintain a logic which holds the interest in a completely different way."-Richard Cochrane - Musings
• 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)
^ Hide Bio for Simon H. Fell
• Show Bio for Mark Wastell
"Mark Wastell Born 1968; cello.
Much of Mark Wastell's relationship with his chosen instrument is concentrated on the tactile, textural and sonic possibilities of both violoncello and bow. He is increasingly interested in working with extreme elements drawn from frequency, timbre and pitch.
His early activity was consciously and subconsciously influenced by a variety of improvising musicians including John Stevens, Barry Guy, Phil Durrant and John Russell. Subsequent exposure to contemporary composers lead to a greater understanding and appreciation of the works written for strings by Feldman, Cage, Nono, Lachenmann and Sciarrino. The use of live electronics and music concrete by Tudor, Parmegiani, Xenakis and others was another important early influence.
Wastell's current instrumental material primarily focuses on using abstract principles of space and texture - encompassing elements of new London silence, pro-instrument minimalism, new complexity and electro-acoustics. Because of the very nature of his chosen instrument, he tends to favour 'chamber' style ensembles and is a member of a number of regular groups:• Chris Burn's Ensemble, with John Butcher, Rhodri Davies, John Russell, Matt Hutchinson
• Derek Bailey's Company - with, for example, Will Gaines, Simon H. Fell and Rhodri Davies
• Evan Parker's String Project, with Peter Cusack, Hugh Davies, Rhodri Davies, Phil Durrant, John Edwards, Kaffe Matthews, Marcio Mattos, John Russell
• Assumed possibilities, with Chris Burn, Rhodri Davies and Phil Durrant
• The Sealed Knot, with Burkhard Beins and Rhodri Davies
• Necessaire with Alessandro Bosetti, Ignaz Schick and Burkhard Beins
• IST with Simon Fell and Rhodri Davies
• Quatuor Accorde with Tony Wren, Phil Durrant and Charlotte Hug
• Broken Concort, a duo with Rhodri Davies
Mark Wastell has also performed with many other leading musicians including John Zorn, Keith Rowe, Peter Kowald, Hugh Davies, Roger Turner, Veryan Weston, Lol Coxhill, Mark Sanders, Axel Dorner, Hans Koch, Phil Minton, Max Eastley and Steve Beresford.
As a soloist he has played at the Micro-classical Festival (London 1996), LMC Festival (London 2000) and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (2000). He has travelled extensively with various groups, performing on tour and at festivals in the USA, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Greece. Other work includes the launch in 1996 of his own record label, Confront Recordings. Wastell is also joint co-ordinator of the concert venue All Angels, together with Rhodri Davies."-European Free Improv (EFI) (http://www.efi.group.shef.ac.uk/musician/mwastell.html)
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