Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Penguin Cafe Orchestra
Jeffes became interested in the relative freedom in ethnic music and decided to imbue his work with the same sense of immediacy and spirit. Their sound is not easy to categorise but has elements of exuberant folk music mixed with the minimalist, repetitive composition of Philip Glass.
Describing how the idea of the PCO came to him Jeffes said, "I was on the beach sunbathing and suddenly a poem popped into my head. It started out 'I am the proprietor of the Penguin Café, I will tell you things at random' and it went on about how the quality of randomness, spontaneity, surprise, unexpectedness and irrationality in our lives is a very precious thing. And if you suppress that to have a nice orderly life, you kill off what's most important. Whereas in the Penguin Café your unconscious can just be. It's acceptable there, and that's how everybody is. There is an acceptance there that has to do with living the present with no fear in ourselves."
Only Jeffes and cellist co-founder Helen Liebmann were stalwart members and other musicians were drafted for the requirements of particular pieces or performances.
Their most famous piece is Telephone & Rubber Band which uses a loop of a ring tone and engaged signal combined.
- Music From The Penguin Cafe (1976)
- Penguin Cafe Orchestra (1981)
- Broadcasting From Home (1984)
- Signs Of Life (1987)
- When In Rome... (1988)
- 'Still Life' At The Penguin Cafe (1990)
- Union Cafe (1993)
- Concert Program (1995)
- Preludes, Airs & Yodels (A Penguin Cafe Primer) (1996)
- A Brief History (2001)
- History (2001)
- Piano Music - Simon Jeffes solo pieces collected after his death
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