Marsden Jazz Festival
Jazz In The Yorkshire Pennines
John Quaill with Simon Fell (left)

The Ragging of Time

The story of legendary commission by Simon Fell


The story of legendary commission by Simon Fell

When the Festival was planning its programme for October 2014 the question was raised whether we would commemorate the beginning of the First World War in some way. As this coincided with the birth of jazz, it was decided to issue a commission to mark both anniversaries.

Simon H Fell was approached to produce a piece for a small-group which examined the legacy of the earliest days of jazz from the perspective of 100 years later.

The resulting piece is an exploration of the links between early jazz and contemporary improvised music, along the way referencing a remarkably varied list of figures from jazz history: Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Larry Coryell, Eric Dolphy, Duke Ellington, Joe Lovano, Charles Mingus, Jelly Roll Morton, Joe ‘King’ Oliver, Gunther Schuller, Edgard Varèse & Anton Webern.

Premiere Broadcast

‘The Ragging of Time’ was premiered as part of the New Stream at the 2014 Festival, and subsequently broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Jazz On 3, where Jez Nelson declared the piece “a fun affair”. But such fun as there might be is tragi-comic, invoking serious questions about history, context, reverence and innovation.

Simon Fell’s Lecture

Fast-forward to September 2017, and Simon returned to Marsden to present a lecture on the creation of the piece which presents a fascinating insight into the creative processes involved in such a commission.

Simon has made an illustrated transcript of his lecture which can be downloaded by clicking on the link below:-

Marsden and The Ragging of Time

Simon’s presentation includes references to a number of music samples, which can be heard here:

The Ragging of Time lecture – Tracks 1 -17

Purchase a CD

To purchase a CD or Download of The Ragging of Time, recorded live at the 2014 Marsden Jazz Festival, click here