CD Frank & Max: Bass Solos 2001-2011 * (CD 15815676),
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Frank & Max: Bass Solos 2001-2011 *

  • 1. For John Edwards
    2. For Barre Phillips
    3. For Jo Fell & Patrick Charton
    4. For Barry Guy
    5. For Harry Miller
    6. For Peter Leah
    7. Turn Out the Stars
    8. For Charles Mingus
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 43

  • Credits

    Recording information: Teillet, St. Dizier-Leyrenne, Creuse, France (2001-2002); The Old School, Bracon Ash, Borfolk, England (2001-2002); Teillet, St. Dizier-Leyrenne, Creuse, France (2007-2011); The Old School, Bracon Ash, Borfolk, England (2007-2011).
    The last time British bassist Simon H. Fell released solo recordings of his own was way back in the 1990s in very limited runs on cassettes. Though he has recorded and performed a great deal, with talents as diverse as Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, pianist/composer/arranger Keith Tippett, saxophonists Alan Wilkinson, Lol Coxhill, John Butcher, and Peter Brtzmann, as well as composer/arranger John Zorn, to name a few, his name is far from well known -- though it should be. The eight recordings on Frank & Max (the names of his upright four- and five-stringed basses) are initially striking for the considerable variation in the pieces, and that they all sound immediate an current, not like they were recorded over the course of a decade. Fell uses all manner of techniques here, from his gorgeous chord style, his disciplined arco playing, a high-wire pizzicato at the top of the neck, and more. All but one of these tunes are improvisations. The lone exception is described by Fell in his liner notes: "If you improvise on a five-string bass with a low B you will eventually end up playing Bill Evans' 'Turn Out the Stars.'" He claims that the tune just came by through this manner of improvising and he couldn't turn it away. Whatever the truth -- or lack thereof -- in this statement, this nearly nine-minute reading of Evans' classic -- played upon an instrument made for him by his wife Jo and set and adjusted by luthier Patrick Charton -- is so expressive and filled with emotion, it cannot help but stand out here. Other pieces that set themselves apart are "For Barre Phillips," with its flashy pizzicato runs, deftly plucked chords, and lightning-quick shifts in timbral concentration, and closer "For Charles Mingus," a noisy, droning, yet emotively warm piece played mostly arco. That said, everything here is played with great imagination and discipline, and is also recorded exceptionally well -- despite the fact that it was cut in two different locations. If solo bass records are something you appreciate, this ranks among the very best, right up there with albums by Barre Phillips himself, and Dave Holland. ~ Thom Jurek

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