The Penguin Cafe Orchestra was a kind of free assembly of musicians from various backgrounds, led by guitarist, composer and arranger Simon Jeffes (Sussex, England, ° 1949 † 1997). The group was created in 1974.
The Penguin Cafe Orchestra performed and recorded albums for 24 years until Jeffes died in 1997 from a brain tumor.
Only Jeffes and cellist Helen Liebmann, co-founder of the band, were permanent members, the rest of the musicians being recruited according to the needs of recordings and concerts. Their style is difficult to define, but it is sometimes close to the music of French composer Yann Tiersen, with whom he shares a bit of the exuberance of folk music. There is also the minimalist aesthetic of the American composer Philip Glass.
After getting tired of what he called the "rigidity" of classical music and becoming aware of the limits of rock, styles that he had both experienced, Simon Jeffes was interested in traditional music, in which he revealed a certain freedom. He decided to imbue his work with the spontaneity and spirituality of this music.