Simon H. Fell

Photograph copyright Jo Fell.

Born Dewsbury, Yorkshire, 13 January 1959; double bass, bass guitar, composer.

Audio clips

One mp3 Simon Fell audio sample is available.

Grew up in Batley, Yorkshire and received piano lessons early on. Began playing double bass in 1973, was a member of the Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra, principal bass with the Kirklees Youth Orchestra, and a founder member of Leeds Musicians' Collective. From 1978 to 1982 read English Literature at Cambridge followed by a brief career in commercial performing; cabaret, theatre, circus, panto, etc.

Formed Bruce's Fingers record label in 1983 and has documented both long-term associations and less permanent and informal playing situations, along with a series of improvisation-related compositions. The trio of Fell, Andy Street (piano) and Tony Shepherd (drums), as 'Lucky Jim', recorded the first Bruce's Fingers album; an ongoing duo with Charles Wharf has recorded four albums, but probably the most significant early success was Hession/Wilkinson/Fell, a free jazz trio which gained a reputation for decisive, passionate improvising. Other regular groupings include the trio Something Else with Mick Beck, Badland, Descension, the Brötzmann /Wilkinson Quartet, VHF, the London Improvisers Orchestra, The Arc with Orphy Robinson, the string trio IST and Fell's own composition-based quintet SFQ. He has also recently performed and recorded with Derek Bailey's Company, including performances in London, Marseille and New York.

Simon Fell has spent much of the past 20 years trying to refine various syntheses of composition, improvisation and jazz. In 1989, he was awarded an Arts Council Jazz Bursary to complete the composition Compilation II for 9 musicians and electronics; a recording was released in 1990. Fell was awarded a composer's research and development bursary by the Arts Council in 1993 to compose Compilation III, a large-scale work for concert pianist, free jazz trio, rock guitarist, jazz orchestra, electronics and tape; a recording of a revised version for 42 musicians appeared in 1998. He has also received commissions from, among others, Eastern Arts, The Termite Club, Leeds University, Haverhill Town Council and Yorkshire & Humberside Arts. His compositions for London Improvisers Orchestra include Papers, Happy Families, Köln Klang, Ellington 100 (Strayhorn 85) and Three Mondrians; recent works for SFQ include Thirteen Rectangles, Six Bells Pieces and ...the old style...


Further information

Articles about/interviews with Simon H. Fell
Blackford, Chris (1993), Bruce's Fingers: label intensive, The Wire, (April), p. 10.
Cowley, Julian (2000), Perverse couplings, The Wire, no. 198, (August), p. 23-25.
England, Phil (1997), Form Is Only Emptiness, Emptiness Is Only Form. Resonance, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 20-27.
Kelly, Michael (1998), Simon H. Fell, Avant, no. 8, (Summer), pp. 12-13. Full text of this article/interview is available on this web site.
Muska, Pepsch (1998), Simon Says..., JazzLive, no. 121, (Winter), pp. 22-24.
Pinsent, Ed (1999), Simon H. Fell, The Sound Projector, no. 5, (January), pp. 57-62.
Renaud, Philippe (1998), Simon H. Fell, Improjazz, no. 50, (November/December), pp. 14-18. Full text of this article/interview is available on this web site.
Watson, Ben (1991), Sod Good Taste... The Wire, no. 93, (November) pp. 42-45.
Watson, Ben (1999), Auteur, Auteur. Jazziz, vol. 16 no. 12, (December), pp. 58-60.

Articles by Simon H. Fell
Fell, Simon H. (1993), Report on the composition of improvised music no. 1, Rubberneck, no. 15, p. 28-33.
Fell, Simon H. (1994), Report on the composition of improvised music no. 2, Rubberneck, no. 17, p. 30-35.
Fell, Simon H. (1997), Report on the composition of improvised music no. 3, Rubberneck, no. 24, p. 30-35.
Fell, Simon H. (1998), Report on the composition of improvised music no. 4, Rubberneck, no. 28, p. 22-27.


1985, The coming of kazar, BFC4.
1985, Compilation I, BF 1.
1986, Free Nelson, BFC 8.
1987, Pride and prejudice, BF 3. Wharf/Fell.
1987/89, L'huile sur le feu, BFC32.
1988, Two steps to easier breathing: a South African suite, BF 2. Persuasion A.
1989, The house in Paris, BFC16.
1989, Five on genius, BFC17.
1989, Termite one, BFC24/BF 32.
1989, Termite two, BFC25.
1990, Laid back leisure spots, BFC23.
1990, Millions of wishes come true in plastic film, BFC26. Hession/Wharf/Fell & Kretzschmar.
1990, Laid back leisure spots, BFC23. Hession/Wharf/Fell.
1990, Compilation II, BF 4/BF 26.
1990, Songs about housework, BFC30. Wharf/Fell.
1990, M.M., BFC31.
1990, Odeon's dropout piece, SLAMCD 401. Single piece on compilation CD.
1991, Eight classic jazz originals you can play, BFC33.
1991, Max, BFC35. Solo.
1991, Bogey's, BFC36/BF 31.
1992, foom! foom!, BF 5.
1992, Rear quarters, BFC39.
1992-96, Frankenstein, BF25. Duo with Charles Wharf.
1993, The horrors of Darmstadt, SX 025CD.
1993, Start moving earbuds, BF10.
1993, Music for 10(0), Leo Lab CD 013.
1994/1996, Ghost lily cascade, Discus 4CD. With Martin Archer.
1994, Network: volume two, Discus 5CD. One short multitracked piece.
1994, St. John's, Ecstatic Peace! E#77. Hession/Wilkinson/Fell.
1995, Badland, BF14. Simon Rose/Simon Fell/Mark Sanders.
1995, Anagrams to avoid, SIWA #3 LP. IST.
1995/96, Playing with tunes, BF20. Something else.
1996, Frankfurter ahnung, Sonic Arts Network SAN 2005. Jaworzyn/Wilkinson/Fell on one track.
1996, The last vibration of the seventh eternity, sug012. Cosmonauts Hail Satan.
1996, Mutual and reciprocal ceremonies, Discus 6CD. From a compilation of electroacoustic works.
1996, Registered firm, Incus CD 33. Hession/Wilkinson/Fell/Morris.
1996 One night in Burmantofts Bo'Weavil Weavil 27CD. Brötzmann/Wilkinson Quartet.
1997, Consequences (of time and place), Front 04. IST.
1997, 9 points in ascent, BF24. Duo with Graham Halliwell.
1997, Pure water construction, Discus 11CD.
1997/1998, Ghost notes, Bruce's Fingers BF 28. IST.
1998, Composition No. 30: Compilation III, Bruce's Fingers BF 27.
1998, Extracts, Erstwhile 001. VHF
1999, Company in Marseille, Incus CD44/45. Company.
1999, Proceedings, Emanem 4201. London Improvisers Orchestra.
1999, Spectral soprano, Emanem 4204. One track by London Improvisers Orchestra on this Lol Coxhill CD.
1999, Winter pilgrim arriving, Discus 12CD. Martin Archer.
1999, Axis of cavity, BF40. Badland.
2000, The hearing continues..., Emanem 4203. London Improvisers Orchestra.
2000, Trees, Whi Music whi002. Amere3.
2000, Improvability, BF44. Hession/Wharf/Fell.
2000, Kaleidozyklen, BF46.
2001, Freedom of the city 2001: large groups, Emanem 4206. London Improvisers Orchestra.
2001, Total Music Meeting 2001: Audiology - 11 groups live in Berlin, A/L/L002. One track by IST on this compilation CD.
2001, Thirteen rectangles, BF43. SFQ.
2001, 15 August 2001, Sound 323 323[1]. Duo of Derek Bailey/Simon H. Fell.
2001, Statics, L'Innomable. VHF.
2002, Freedom of the city 2002, Emanem 4090. London Improvisers Orchestra.
2002, Friendly faces: egg tempera, ArtPart 02. Coxhill/Fell/Heesch.
2002, Lodi, Confront Collectors Series CCS5. IST.
2002/4, The formulary of curses, Discus 16CD. Ask.
2002, Music for strings, percussion & electronics, BF59. ZFP Quartet.
2003, Freedom of the city 2003: small groups, Emanem 4212.
2003, The society of the spectacle, Emanem 4120. Badland.
2003, Ikebana: London encounters, Emanem 4213. Milo Fine.
2003, Caesura, Emanem 4123. Roland Ramanan.
2003, K3, BF58. Ian Smith/Simon H. Fell/Harris Eisenstadt Quartet.
2003, Help point, Copepod POD02. Alex Ward/Luke Barlow/Simon Fell/Steve Noble.
1997-2003, Clay angels, BF56. Su Lyn.
2003, Views of Mancini, FMRCD263-0808. The Mancini Project.
2003, Improvisations for George Riste, psi 08.06. London Improvisers Orchestra.
2003/4, Heritage and ringtones, Discus 18CD. Martin Archer.
2003/2004, Four compositions, Red Toucan RT9326. SFQ.
2003/2004, Responses, reproduction & reality: freedom of the city 2003-4, Emanem 4110. London Improvisers Orchestra.
2005, Freedom of the city 2005, Emanem 4216. In London Improvisers Orchestra.
2002-2005, Composition No. 62: Compilation IV, BF57.
2007, Positions & descriptions, Clean Feed CF230CD. SFE.
2008, The necessary and the possible, Victo cd 116. Joe Morris/Simon H Fell/Alex Ward.
2009, The middle distance, Another timbre at24. Chris Burn/Philip Thomas/Simon H. Fell.
2010, Two falls & a submission, Bo'Weavil Weavil 44CD. Hession/Wilkinson/Fell.

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