Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Lol Coxhill - 1984 - Cou$cou$

Lol Coxhill 

01. West Lawn Dirge / Just A Closer Walk With Thee 7:06
02. West Lawn Dirge / Just A Closer Walk With Thee / Diversions 6:20
03. Hot Lavaband Extensions 4:18
04. Variations Pour Violoncelle, Contrebasse, Sopranino Et Piano 14:22
05. … And Lo! The Chapel Walls Trembled At The Voice Of The Mighty Cuckoo 7:24

A1 credited to "Buck Funk & Reverend Antony W. Reves"
A2 + A3 credited to "The Hot Love Band"
B1 credited to "Quartetto Chantenay"
B2 credited to "The Recedents"

A1 enregistré au "People Studio" New Orleans USA Mai 192(?)
A2, A3 enregistré à Chantenay-Villedieu le 2 septembre 1983
B1, B2 enregistré à la chapelle St-Georges-de-Chantenay-Villedieu le 2 septembre 1983

Lol Coxhill: soprano saxophone, voice, sopranino saxophone, drum machine, synthesizer, organ, tapes, treatments, composer, arrangements, drawings
Bunk Funk: saxophone
Reverend Antony W. Reeves: piano
Alan Tomlinson: trombone, voice
Phil Minton: trumpet, voice
Steve Beresfo: euphonium, voice, piano
Jac Berrocal: trumpet, voice
Sylvia Hallett: violin, voice
Georgie Born: cello, voice
Susan Ferrar: violin, voice
Mike Cooper: guitar, voice, treatments
Peter Bennink: alto saxophone, voice
Fred Van Hove: piano, voice
Joëlle Léandre: double bass, voice, composer
Roger Turner: drums, voice, percussion, composer
Veryan Weston: piano, voice

With a full roster of Nato label notables at his disposal (Steve Beresford, Jac Berrocal, Mike Cooper, Roger Turner, Georgie Born and Joelle Leandre to name just a few), this legendary soprano/sopranino sax master tackles some oddly disparate idioms on Couscous. Unusually, the album begins not with any Coxhill music, but instead with a 7+ minute uncut excerpt of Buck Funk and the Rev. Antony W. Reeves from a scratchy old 1920's era wax cylinder disc playing playing some very mournful melancholic sounds. What follows is a near Globe Unity Orchestra-scale free jazz deconstruction of the proceeding piece, resulting in a New-Orleans-funeral-marching-band-gone-wonky sound that's gorgeously Ayler-esque. Though these deformations form the high point here, there's much else to love about Couscous, not least the seriously screwy album closer featuring Coxhill's trio formation The Recedents with Mike Cooper and Roger Turner, creating a work whose sound is precisely what you'd mentally conjure from the title "...And Lo! The Chapel Walls Trembled At The Voice Of The Mighty Cukoo".

Lol Coxhill - 1983 - Instant Replay

Lol Coxhill 
Instant Replay

01. A1 9:30
02. A2 8:20
03. A3 3:21
04. B1 7:49
05. B2 6:09
06. Embraceable You 1:39
07. B3 4:50
08. C1 2:34
09. Caravan 2:55
10. C2 5:03
11. C3 6:50
12. D1 9:07
13. D2 5:43
14. D3 Pot Pourri 2:56

1 recorded at Bibliothèque d'Argenteuil, May 13th 1982
2 recorded at Théâtre Dunois, Paris, May 11th 1982
3 recorded at Hotte House, Quimperlé, May 29th 1982
4 recorded at Théâtre Dunois, Paris, November 3rd 1981
5 and 6 recorded at Théâtre Dunois, Paris, May 8th 1982
7 recorded at Eglise de Longwy, Mayth 1982
8 and 9 recorded at Théâtre Dunois, Paris, November 5th 1981
10 recorded at Théâtre Dunois, Paris, November 4th 1981, 9h30
11 recorded at Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Angoulême, May 22nd 1982
12 recorded at Maison de la Culture, Reims, May 23rd 1982
13 recorded at Chapelle de Villedieu, Chantenay-Villedieu, September 4th 1982
14 recorded in Chantenay-Villedieu, 1982

Bass Clarinet, Soprano Saxophone – Louis Sclavis (tracks: 7)
Clarinet – Tony Coe (tracks: 13)
Cornet, Voice, Trumpet [Rkan-dun] – Jacques Berrocal (tracks: 12)
Double Bass – Joëlle Léandre (tracks: 1, 13)
Drums – Christian Rollet (tracks: 2), Xavier Jouvelet (tracks: 10)
Ensemble – Bagad De Kemperlé (tracks: 3), La Chantenaysienne (tracks: 14)
Guitar – Raymond Boni (tracks: 11)
Organ, Piano – Emmanuel Bex (tracks: 10)
Percussion, Vocals, Accordion – Sven-Ake Johansson (tracks: 5)
Piano – Misha Mengelberg (tracks: 9)
Sopranino Saxophone – Lol Coxhill (tracks: 14)
Soprano Saxophone – Lol Coxhill (tracks: 1, 2, 4 to 13)
Trombone – Paul Rutherford (2) (tracks: 4)
Voice – Annick Nozati (tracks: 5), Lol Coxhill (tracks: 6)

Lol Coxhill et Fred Frith - 1983 - French Gigs

Lol Coxhill et Fred Frith 
French Gigs

01. Reims
02. Limoges 1
03. Poitiers
04. Limoges 2
05. Munchen/London

Track 1 recorded at "Musiques de traverses"-Festival 1981 in Reims.
Tracks 2 and 4 recorded 26th October 1978 in Limoges.
Track 3 recorded 25th October 1978 in Poitiers.
Track 5 recorded at Sound Fabrik (guitar) and London (saxophone), through correspondence winter 1991-1992. Mixed at Studio des Usines, Neuchatel.

Soprano Saxophone – Lol Coxhill
Guitar – Fred Frith

Portions of this set come from a short 1978 tour in the period shortly after Fred Frith's longtime progressive rock combo Henry Cow had run out of milk and talented multi-instrumentalist/composer Frith was stressing out about the insecurities of undertaking a solo career. The entire first side of the album originates a few years later, when the duo reconvened for a surprise gig in Reims. In between, Frith had relocated to New York City and was well under way along the aforementioned path as freelance solo artist. In both cases the playing is superb, the time gap between the performances becoming the type of reality that fades away magically when improvisers of this quality take the stage. Coxhill's tone is like no other soprano saxophonist, other than Sidney Bechet. Both men have the ability to use the small horn as a kind of conjuring wand, bringing to mind an apple tart with one note and a truck scraping the side of the wall with another. Unlike Bechet, Coxhill is comfortable playing in contexts far removed from traditional jazz, although he brings in stylistic assets from this genre such as humor, sentimentality, and swing. Using his tabletop guitar setup, Frith provides a magnificent sort of orchestral accompaniment. He also does well producing the collection, avoiding the temptation to chop up the flowing improvisations in order to come up with an album of meaningless highlights. If anything, the longer playing time of a CD might have allowed even more music to be presented, and perhaps someday these recordings will be revisited for a reissue with that in mind.

Eyeless In Gaza / Lol Coxhill - 1982 - Untitled / "Home Produce

Eyeless In Gaza / Lol Coxhill 
Untitled / "Home Produce

Eyeless In Gaza Silver
–Eyeless In Gaza For Edward
–Eyeless In Gaza Rosary
–Eyeless In Gaza Crêpe Paper Heart
–Eyeless In Gaza Before December
Home Produce
–Lol Coxhill The Vacant Pool
–Lol Coxhill Echoes Of Falmer
–Lol Coxhill The Odd Fellows Ball
–Lol Coxhill B Movie Prelude

Limited edition of 1500 copies.
Cassette with booklet in plastic bag.

Text from the last page of the booklet:
Lol Coxhill: Private recordings.
Eyeless In Gaza: Recorded by Eyeless In Gaza, January 1982. Engineer: John Rivers. Woodbine Studio.

"The Vacant Pool" recorded at a newly completed indoor swimming pool in London prior to the opening of the building in 1980, using a Nagra portable recorder.
"Echoes of Falmer" recorded on a TEAC 4 track machine following a concert at the university of Sussex in 1973.
"The Old Fellows Ball" recorded on a TEAC 4 track machine in 1976. Dedicated to numerous friends with whom I have played vaguely similar music.
"B Movie Prelude" recorded on a TEAC 4 track machine. This section of the music is played over the opening title and credits of the film "The Poppy Seed Affair" (1981). L.C.

Great tape once again from Pascal Bussy’s Tago Mago imprint. This one pairs british Lol Coxhill with Eyeless In Gaza (the duo of Martyn Bates and Peter Becker). The former (b.1932) contributes a series of lively & ethereal soprano saxophone solos which he dubbed ‘Home Produce’. Two of the tracks (eg. #2&4) are duets with himself using multi-tracking recording technique, sounding rather playful and personal (I’m sometimes reminded Anthony Braxton’s ‘New York Fall 1974’ LP). The opener is a solo recorded inside an empty swimming pool benefiting from the reverberant acoustics. The Eyeless In Gaza tracks are in the vein of their just then released ‘Pale Hands I Loved So Well’ album from 1982, that is soundscapes and improvisations for piano, organ, barrel drums, vibraphone and hushed vocals. Very interesting use of musique concrète recordings and what sounds like bowed guitar, with some passages surprisingly sounding like an AMM live session. Wonderful feeling of total abandon throughout.

Lol Coxhill / Raymond Boni / Maurice Horsthuis - 1981 - Chantenay 80

Lol Coxhill / Raymond Boni / Maurice Horsthuis 
Chantenay 80 

01. Chantenay 80 (1ère Partie)
02. Chantenay 80 (2ème Partie)

Lol Coxhill, soprano saxophone
Raymond Boni, guitar
Maurice Horsthuis, viola

Recorded 6 September 1980 during the Festival of Chantenay-Villedieu, at the Chapel of Villedieu.

First album of the adventure uniting Lol Coxhill and the nato records that will last 15 years, the disc does not restore the concert. Lol posed to Chantenay his marks installed lightly, of stroller and poet. He was not going to miss any of the next eight editions. In the little chapel full of eggs, Raymond Boni had opted for the acoustic guitar and the violist Maurice Horsthuis, to conclude the concert, dragged the three men in a sort of ritornello imprinting in our dreams to come where, as the wrote Jean-Claude Raspiengeas in Les Nouvelles Littéraires about this disc, "in a dialogue of sounds set in the crystalline velvet of dreams". 

Lol Coxhill / Morgan Fisher - 1980 - Slow Music

Lol Coxhill / Morgan Fisher 
Slow Music

01. Que En Paz Descanse 10:05
02. Flotsam 1:30
03. Vase 8:13
04. Jetsam 1:25
05. Matt Finish 8:07
06. Slow Music 24:08
07. Pretty Little Girl 2:03

Recorded at Pipe Studios, April/May 1980

Guitar, Bass, Piano, Voice, Tape, Effects – Morgan Fisher
Soprano Saxophone, Voice – Lol Coxhill

Although Lol Coxhill's name is listed first, this is really his partner's recording. Morgan Fisher wrote almost all the tunes, conceived the project, and dominates most of the CD. He writes that he "perhaps" intended to "produce the minimum 'amount' of music" required to hold the listener's attention. The results are mostly static and even dull, with droning electronics rarely giving way to anything remotely stimulating. While the detailed liners discuss the way in which tape delays, "mathematically calculated loops," and "permutations" of notes were utilized, the listener is left with the sinking feeling that not much is happening. For those who recognize Coxhill for his audaciously original concepts, there is little here of which to grab hold. The most interesting moments probably take place on his vocalizing of the short "Pretty Little Girl," although there are many better examples of the saxophonist to be found elsewhere. 

Lol Coxhill, Giancarlo Schiaffini, Andrea Centazzo - 1979 - Moot

Lol Coxhill, Giancarlo Schiaffini, Andrea Centazzo 

01. Moot N. 1
02. Moot N. 2
03. Moot N. 3
04. Moot N. 4
05. Moot N. 5
06. Moot N. 6
07. Moot N. 7
08. Moot N. 8
09. Moot N. 9
10. Moot N. 10
11. Moot N. 11

Recorded and mixed at Centazzostudio Pistoia, Italy July/Sept. 1978.

Lol Coxhill: Soprano Sax
Giancarlo Schiaffini: Trombone
Andrea Centazzo: Drums, Gongs & Cymbals, Percussion

Lol Coxhill - 1979 - Lid

Lol Coxhill

01. Uno
02. Due
03. Tre
04. Cinque
05. Quattro
06. The Frogs Of Gabbiano

Recorded Pistoia, Italy July 1978
Recorded By, Producer, Cover – Andrea Centazzo

Soprano Saxophone, Marimba [Bass], Composed By – Lol Coxhill

LID is another jewel of his early works, Italian rare FREE JAZZ on ICTUS label sax solo improvisations.

Lol Coxhill - 1979 - Digswell Duets

Lol Coxhill 
Digswell Duets

01. 11.5.78 19:40
02. 26.5.78 19:55

Electronics [The Digswell Tapes System] – Simon Emmerson (2) (tracks: A)
Piano – Veryan Weston (tracks: B)
Soprano Saxophone – Lol Coxhill

Side A was recorded at Digswell House in Welwyn Garden City, Herts. Side B was recorded at the Oxford Museum of Modern Art.

Most of the material on Digswell Duets (the side one/side two track titles) were released in 1979 by Random Radar Records. This reissue on Emanem adds over 30 minutes of extra material from the same sessions. Both LP and CD are split in two. The first half features a May 1978 concert by Lol Coxhill on soprano saxophone with Simon Emmerson manipulating his sound output electronically. This is one of the, if not the, first recordings of a saxophonist being processed in real time. Coxhill dialogues with his electronic ghost, interacting with Emmerson's manipulations (20 years later John Butcher and Phil Durrant would use the same technique, with much better technology, on Requests and Antisongs). The electronics are not intrusive at all, letting the saxophonist develop his mellow melodies. The extra track "First Encounter Part Two" and the original "Side One Part One" are both precious moments. The second half of the album is made of excerpts from a duo concert a few days later with pianist Veryan Weston. One of the first recordings from this long standing duo, this set suffers a little from poorer sound quality. The five original LP tracks are found in a different order among much unreleased material, all presented in sequence except for a couple of cuts. Halfway through, the listener has the surprise of finding himself into the Gershwins' "Embraceable You," which retrospectively gives a delicate jazzy flavor this whole half. Both players were in very good shape, but this recording pales in comparison to the duo's 1998 set Boundless.

Lol Coxhill - 1978 - The Joy of Paranoia

Lol Coxhill 
The Joy of Paranoia

01. The Wakefield Capers 18:45
02. The Clück Variations
First Movement: Prelude To Familiarity 1:05
Second Movement: In Pursuit Of Rumble 2:05
Third Movement: Explanatory Passage 2:53
Fourth Movement: Prelude To Paranoia 1:48
03. Joy Of Paranoia Waltz 2:12
04. Loverman 5:15
05. Perdido 7:21

Piano – Veryan Weston
Soprano Saxophone – Lol Coxhill

LOL COXHILL 19 September 1932 – 10 July 2012
Obituary by Kris Needs

During the late 60s-early 70s, Lol Coxhill was the epitome of cool, striding through Aylesbury with his sax-case, shades and shaven pate, often making for the train to London. Being born in 1932 made him older and wiser than the wide-eyed Friars crowd. One of the best qualities about the man was that he was happy to impart that wisdom, along with his beautifully surreal sense of humour, to anyone who would listen.

When I became involved with the Aylesbury Arts Workshop around 1969, Friars just a few weeks old, Lol was like an omnipresent elder statesman and inspiration. He appeared solo several times at Friars Phase one and it wasn’t too long before he’d held a night at the arts lab in the catacombs below the old council offices [where Ben silkscreened the Friars posters]. Just Lol and a couple of mates, playing free jazz. I’d only encountered this strain of music on a couple of Sun Ra albums, but he took what often sounded inpenetrable, making it sound fun and emotionally-charged [Apparently, one of his career highlights was playing a solo gig attended by Sun Ra’s mighty Arkestra, who went and congratulated him afterwards, saying, ‘Man, that was HARD’.

He became an integral part of the Canterbury scene which spawned bands such as Caravan and Kevin Ayers’ Whole Wide World, the latter playing both Pink Floyd’s 1970 free concert in Hyde Park, also one of the Aylesbury College dances I was involved in promoting. Legend had it that Peel had spotted him busking outside the Royal Festival Hall, signing him up to his fledgling Dandelion label, which resulted in The Ear Of The Beholder double album and added to Lol’s larger-than-life position in the underground family which seemed to orbit the Peel show, Friars and the London underground. But Lol had already been around, growing up in Aylesbury, acquiring his first sax in 1947, holding groundbreaking local club events playing his sax over the new jazz 78s coming from America, then cutting his musical teeth playing with mod bands, also backing the likes of Champion Jack Dupree, Rufus Thomas, Alexis Korner and even Tommy Cooper!      He seemed able to turn his sax to anything, playing on John Kongos‘ Tokoloshie Manin 1971, while unleashing a string of albums including 1973‘s The Story So Far…, 1975‘s Welfare State and Fleas In Custard [with guitarist G.F. Fitzgerald], 1977‘s Diverse, 1978‘s The Joy Of Paranoia and 1978‘s Lid, seeming to be able to weld the whole history of jazz sax playing into one set, laced with warmly surreal humour.

In 1980, he created ambient milestone Slow Music with Friars hero Morgan Fisher, of Mott, British Lions and Miniatures album fame [contributing to the latter], where the pair pioneered looping and innovatory recording techniques, loosely based on Handel‘s Largo. He also played with Carol Grimes’ Delivery, and forged strong links with the Canterbury scene, becoming a vital part of Kevin Ayers’ Whole Wide World‘s classic lineup alongside Mike Oldfield and David Bedford [appearing on Shooting At The Moon and The Confessions Of Doctor Dream], also collaborating with Steve Miller, Soft Machine‘s Hugh Hopper and Robert Wyatt. He played ska with Jamaican legend Rico, appeared on the Damned‘s 1977 second album, Music For Pleasure, the following decade onwards recording with the likes of Fred Frith, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker and Steve Lacy, albums under his own name including Frog Dance and Alone And Together.

Lol continued his uniquely personal aural odyssey through to the present day, whether 1989’s teaming up with our own Otway and Barrett around the same time as  producing The Bald Soprano Companion set, appearing as compere and performer at the annual Bracknell Jazz festival or 2004’s improvisational Out To Launch. Most recently, he had been working again with Evan Parker and the Glasgow Improvisational Orchestra, also releasing the Old Sights, New Sounds album on Incus.

On July 10 2012, we lost this local legend at the age of 79, a gigantic figure who seemed to have packed several normal lifetimes of music into his six decades of cutting edge voyaging. He leaves partner Ulrike plus son and two daughters from his previous marriage. Our sympathy goes out to them; I used to hang out with daughter Maddie during the halcyon early Friars-Dark Lantern-Aylesbury College days, remembering her being blessed with her father’s vibrant spirit and always pleasant demeanour. So that lives on, also embedded in seemingly countless records of pure, unfettered abandon.

RIP Lol.

Lol Coxhill - 1977 - Diverse

Lol Coxhill 

01. Diver 16:30
02. Divers 21:00

Recorded in concert (but only just, as most of the audience were in the bar) at the Seven Dials, Shelton Street, London WC2, 1976.

Bass – Dave Green (tracks: B)
Cello – Colin Wood (tracks: B)
Percussion – John Mitchell (tracks: B)
Soprano Saxophone, Producer, Recorded By – Lol Coxhill

The two long pieces that make up the Diverse album, we get Coxhill as we know him best: as a quirky, complex improviser with a sense of humor and a flair for understatement. "Diver" is completely solo, a long, loping travail through Coxhill's tonal universe as expressed by his great love of balladry. It's an unusual timbral specter he reveals, but it's a welcome one in that his phrasing, sonorities, and tonal explorations are never off the mark and always expansive harmonically. On the quartet piece, we get chamber improvisation at its finest; various dialogues and languages assert themselves only to disappear before they can take themselves too seriously. The music circles round, and turns out and in on itself before breaking onto higher ground as sound itself.

At the time this album was cut, saxophonist Lol Coxhill seems to have had more of a sense of humor than the entire British improvising crowd combined. This much is evident from the amusing liner notes, at one point quoting someone as saying Coxhill's solo soprano saxophone playing is a highlight of western culture and at another admitting that most of the audience was too busy drinking at the bar to listen to the concert that is featured on this 1976 album. The first half is Coxhill on solo soprano. While that is a good idea, a comparison with some of his later recordings, such as the 1981 Dunois Solos, makes the 16-minute "Diver" a bit edgy and incoherent. One obvious distraction is a loose floorboard, and while there is always a certain amount of interest in phenomenon such as this getting captured on record, inevitably listeners will be able to find better example of this man's fine solo saxophone in the Coxhill discography. The floorboard gets in his way, he get in its way. Perhaps a solo recording of the floorboard is stashed in the Ogun vaults somewhere. A quartet convenes on the second side, placing the saxophonist in front of drums, bass, and cello for music that is slippery, surprising, and not entirely successful. It is admirable music, sure, never content to crawl into one extreme corner and stay there like so many groups on the British free improvisation scene. At times, it even seems like the playing might have been more inspired had the players not been relying totally on their improvised wits; Coxhill is certainly a player that can work magic with composed and arranged material, and aspects of his accompanists' playing suggests they share this similarity with him.

Welfare State / Lol Coxhill - 1975 - Welfare State / Lol Coxhill

Welfare State / Lol Coxhill 
Welfare State / Lol Coxhill

01. The First Bit
02. Egal O. K.
03. Le Tombeau De Ravel
04. Grumbley's Creole Trombone
05. Blossom Time
06. Expedition To The Lair Of The Terrifying Spider Boy...Who Fortunately Was Not At Home
07. An Awfully Romantic Duet For Possibly Blackbird And Definitely Saxophone
08. Tuba Gallicalis
09. Egg Dance
10. Mad Tom
Welwyn Garden
11. Mole Song
12. Little German Band
13. Bring Out Your Skeletons
14. Lady Howard Calypso
15. Parade
16. Tribal Drumming From The Nim Ram River Region
17. Big German Band
18. Rag
19. Ghosts
20. Luke Jamboree
21. Skipton March
22. Arena
23. Child Of The Evening
24. Anna Marie
25. W. S. Samba
26. Yet Another Egal O. K.

Alto Saxophone – John Fox
Cello – Colin Wood
Clarinet – Cathy Kiddle
Concertina – Boris Howarth
Conch – Lou Glandfield
Flute – Liz Lockhart
Guitar – Boris Howarth
Organ [Pipes] – Boris Howarth, Cathy Kiddle, Diana Davies, Jane Durrant, Liz Lockhart, Lol Coxhill
Percussion – Boris Howarth, Diana Davies, Lol Coxhill, Lou Glandfield, Penny Glandfield, Steve Gumbley
Soprano Saxophone – Lol Coxhill
Sounds – Boris Howarth, Diana Davies, Jane Durrant, John Fox, Liz Lockhart, Lol Coxhill, Phil Minton, Steve Gumbley
Tenor Saxophone – Jane Durrant, Lol Coxhill
Trombone – Steve Gumbley
Trombone [Valve] – Lou Glandfield
Trumpet – Phil Minton
Violin – Boris Howarth
Vocals – Phil Minton, Sue Fox, Varner Van Wely, John Fox
Whistling – John Chapman, Peter Kiddle
Zither – Boris Howarth

This is something of an oddity in the Lol Coxhill discography, but a delightful record all the same. Coxhill was the musical director for this travelling troupe from 1973 to 1975. This is functional music, adapted to the multi-dimensional performances of Welfare State, Welfare State was a nomadic consortium of artists, makers, musicians and performers. As said by John Fox in the liner notes, the WS envisaged themselves as Civic Magicians and Engineers of the Imagination, devising rituals and constructing images for particular times, places and seasons. They travelled throughout Europe with a mobile village of lorries and caravans, creating and animating outdoor events with sculptures, theatre pieces, celebrations, dances and processions. Consisting of 16 adults and 7 children, WS would stop for shorter or longer residences, whenever the opportunity arose to "make poetry concrete".

The record captures the functionality and the ceremoniality of the music, though listening to it one inevitably misses the other sensory elements needed to make it a full spectacular experience, but one might conjure up suitable visual images from the sounds captured on this album, not the.least the front cover pic which reminds me of the cult film "The Wicker Man".  Obvious referneces here to medieval ceremonies and rituals and old-age mythology. It might bear some resemblances to what in the UK has become known as the Travellers movement, dating back to the festivals of the 70s and ideas of alternative life styles, ironically at a certain distance from the welfare state, one might think.

As said above, this is altogether lovely. Lots of tracks here which made track-splitting into an ordeal, but perseverance shall be rewarded, they say. Among the troupe, there is a certain vocalist extraordinaire by the name of Phil Minton. Hard to pick out favourites here, but there is a duet of blackbird (?) and soprano saxophone, a splendid piece of pastoral idyll.

The info is a mite too extensive to put here, but there is an info file attached and scans of the back cover for those who want to engage in details. I keep thinking this is a very British record (more so as the liner notes even go to the point of emphasizing that the Ayler tune "Ghosts" has a BRITISH arrangement). So after this one, there will be a very Norwegian record, also rooted in folk music traditions. We'll get to that in a little while.

Lol Coxhill - 1975 - Fleas In Custard

Lol Coxhill 
Fleas In Custard

01. Duet For Soprano Saxophone And Guitar
02. Hitherto Unrevealed Facts
03. Hints For Beginners
04. Three A.M. Modulations
05. Synalto
06. Voices Of The Enlightened
07. Hurry Along Please
08. Don't Call Us

Lol Coxhil: Saxophone [Acoustic Soprano, Ring Modulated Soprano, Synthesized Multitracked Soprano, Syntheized Alto Soprano], Voice,

This is one of the records Coxhill recorded for the Virgin subsidiary Carloline label in the mid 70's .
Back in its day virgin was quite an exploratory independent label ..the rough trade of it's day... one would have a hard time releasing a patchwork oddity like this now ,it simply doesn't fit into any specific category... most improv labels and fans would no doubt baulk at the cheesy effects deployed throughout.
Coxhill's a master (still) at employing kitch and cheese imaginatively and subversively..playing around with cliche ,and disappointing serious minded listener's expectations is all part of the game.

its certainly one of his most eccentric records.. side one consists of a duet with little known guitarist G.F fitzgerald.
side 2 is a collage of excerpted assortments of what sounds like lol answering questions of passers by on the street while busking..bits of between set banter at gigs ..jokes and overdubbed solo saxophone pieces ..the solo tracks utilise ring modulation and other synthesised effects.
Coxhill discusses having worked in a glue factory in the early 60's "throwing horses hooves in a bone crushing machine"

Lol Coxhill - 1974 - The Story So Far...Oh Really

Lol Coxhill 
The Story So Far...Oh Really

"The Story So Far..." / Stephen Miller
01. G Song (2:17)
02. F Bit (4:51)
03. Songs of March (3:17)
04. More G Songs (3:46)
05. Does This? (3:55)
06. The Greatest Off-Shore Race in the World (4:06)
"...Oh Really?" / Lol Coxhill
07. Reprise for Those Who Want It Slower (1:52)
08. Tubercular Balls (0:23)
09. Soprano Derivativo/Apricot Jam (6:18)
10. Oh, DO I Like to Be Beside the Seadside? (6:55)
11. In Memoriam: Meister Eckhart. From The Welfare State of the Same Name Starring Randolph Scott (8:42)

- Steve Miller / grand piano (2,4,6,7), Wurlitzer and Fender electric pianos (1,3,5)
- Lol Coxhill / soprano saxophone (6,7,9-11), Wurlitzer electronic percussion (8), cathedral organ (11), tape effects (10,11)
- Laurie Allan / drums (1,3,5-7)
- Archie Leggett / bass guitar (6,7,9)
- Kevin Ayers / acoustic guitar (9)
- Robert Wyatt / vocals, percussion (9)

In 1973-74 much had changed in the Canterbury Scene. Steve Miller had left Caravan, unwilling to be the organist of the band, and was followed by Derek Austin and - finally - by Dave Sinclair again. Coxhill's and Miller's Delivery had now become Hatfield & The North, featuring Dave Stewart on keyboards. Robert Wyatt had fallen down a window, returning from hospital with paraplegia and sitting in a wheelchair, which meant that the Matching Mole project would never be continued again. Kevin Ayers had a backing band comprising Archie Leggatt and Ollie Halsall and released his huge The Confessions of Dr. Dream and other Stories album in 1974.

A few of these changes leave a trace on this album. The Ayers-Wyatt-Coxhill-Leggatt jam is striking in its chronological proximity to Wyatt's accident, the Hatfield & The North musicians who contributed to the first Miller/Coxhill album were seemingly busy recording their first album, and Archie Leggatt and Laurie Allan (who worked closely with Wyatt in 1974) are the two only 'session musicians' who played on the genuine album sessions. And Steve Miller, free from all band obligations, sounds more relaxed on The Story So Far - Oh Really?, completing his first LP side of real solos - with contributions by Laurie Allan, but lacking Coxhill's playing which was featured on the Miller pieces of the debut album.

Again the 'Miller side' is side A, and it begins with G Song, featuring Laurie Allan on drums and Miller on Wurlitzer (chords) and Rhodes (solo) electric pianos. This charming little opener is not too far away from the pastoral jazzy instrumentals Rick Wright composed in 1969/70 around the Zabriskie Point sessions. Think the interludes in Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast, for example. The two electric pianos are tightly cogged, but together they form a softly sparkling layer on the fairly 'earthy' drums.

Both F Bit and More G Songs are solo performances on the grand piano and are good examples of how Miller combined impressionist piano music with jazz phrasings. Connaisseurs of solo piano music will surely find a lot more facets and details in these tracks than me, but the elegic and melancholic atmosphere, the unpredictable metres and the occasionally dissonant lines are also really compelling without needing to be compared to other artists' similar output. Incredibly suited for a walk through the landscape on a hazy day in late summer.

The menacing Songs of March makes a difference, sounding hectic and industrial due to the ever-changing rhythms and Laurie Allan's metallic cymbal crashing. Many electric pianos tower above each other and the basic electric piano vamp, only consisting of slightly overdriven Wurlitzer power chords, sounds like early Math Rock. Interestingly, when you listen to Adam Holzman on Steven Wilson's Get All You Deserve tour band, you might think that he knows this Steve Miller track very well. He also plays his electric piano through a ring modulator and a wah-wah pedal, and even his playing style, most notably on Luminol, seems to be not only influenced by the well-known Dave Stewart, but also by the way Steve Miller performs on this album. As a former Miles Davis collaborator Holzman might be better acquainted with the American fusion pianists, but at least those who like his style could try out Miller as well.

Does This? continues this ragged and savage mood, but this time Allan doesn't hammer through a mechanic beat, but rather loses track after a while, just like drummers do when they're halfway in a drum solo. Actually it's Miller who keeps the timing this time, playing some pumping clusters on the electric piano while Allan drifts away. Listen to the feathery wah-wah chords in the very beginning - then listen to No Twilight Within The Courts of Sun live!

The Greatest Off-Shore Race in the World appears both in a fast and in a slow version, the latter entitled Reprise for Those Who Want it Slower (btw - I love those track titles). Both pieces are dominated by Coxhill, but - probably owing to time issues - were outsourced to the first LP side. This time the presence of Archie Leggatt seems to ground the jam session on a stable rhythm and a stable harmonic background, and indeed it's nice to hear Coxhill and Miller (on grand piano) perform a piece of jazzy blues rock.

The short Tubercular Balls, most probably a pun on Oldfield's Tubular Bells which was also published by the Virgin label, is another recording of that cool Wurlitzer electric percussion (Coxhill played with Oldfield in Kevin Ayers' band from 1970 to 1971). This could have been a bit longer.

In the case of Soprano Derivativo/Apricot Jam the fruity title already suggests which man appears here. It's indeed Kevin Ayers on acoustic guitar who took part in this jam in October 1973 with Archie Leggatt, Lol Coxhill and a Robert Wyatt who shortly before was released from hospital after breaking his spine during a party - this might well be the first recording Wyatt, here on vocals and percussion, did after his accident which took place in June 1973. Not astoundingly the whole piece sounds Caribbean, the group shuffles slowly along Ayers' lazy guitar strumming, but Coxhill's honking saxophones and Wyatt's croaking vocal effects give the session a typically Canterburian surreality.

The film soundtrack piece In Memoriam: Meister Eckart is the most captivating true saxophone solo I have ever heard. Of course there are Colosseum's Rope Ladder to the Moon and Pink Floyd's Us And Them, but Meister Eckart is a real solo: no drums, no piano, only a church organ drone tracked by Coxhill in a cathedral and Coxhill soloing on top of that. The interesting thing is that Coxhill makes heavy use of modal scales instead of sticking to the usual blues and jazz scales.

When I listen to this piece I understand what made Coxhill perform the short saxophone solos on Claudy Banks, a traditional British song from the Albion Country Band's folk revival album No Roses in 1971, which are solos I adore extremely much. Coxhill wasn't only a British jazz saxophonist, but also brought in influences of his culture into the jazz music he mostly played. Whenever I listen to the first bars of this recording they stick to my mind for many hours. All fermatas and breaks in this track are totally unexpected, but the huge mass of different melodies is kept together tightly by the swing and unique phrasing of Coxhill's voicing. And the drone and big reverberation of the church and its organ give the piece a haunted and ancient vibe - it's simply an amazingly good piece of music.

I believe I found the track Oh, Do I Like to be Beside the Seaside? as a brief fun encore somewhere on a live compilation by Dave Stewart's band Egg, but there seems to be no big relation because the Coxhill track is neither funny nor brief. During the course of about seven minutes Coxhill sends you through thick carpets of echoed recorders and saxophones, reminding me quite much of Terry Riley and the organ loops Mike Ratledge in turn did on Out-Bloody-Rageous in 1969. Coxhill's stuff, however, is outright spooky and a lot more rough around the corners. What makes this piece differ from his previous saxophone experiments, such as Bath 72 on the Coxhill/Miller debut album, is indeed the use of the tape loops. Tape loops highlight the melodic components a l and this makes me like tracks like these a few tads better.

A Fabulous Comedian is a street recording of Coxhill telling a story to a group of people. I think that's the kind of substance of which Coxhill created big parts of his surreal Ear of Beholder double LP. That album is, by the way, the right one to buy if you cannot get enough of the weirder stuff on the Coxhill/Miller set. Kevin Ayers and Mike Oldfield also appear there once or twice.

All in all I listen to The Story So Far - Oh Really? way more often than to Miller/Coxhill / Coxhill/Miller. It's an album which is plainly enjoyable, especially on a warm summer evening, without needing to sit through lengthy and complex free jazz pieces. This doesn't mean that the debut album is bad, it's exciting on its own merit too, but in an overall rating the second album should be granted a slightly better rating.

Lol Coxhill - 1972 - Toverball Sweet

Lol Coxhill 
Toverball Sweet 

01. Five To Four 7:32
02. Clompen Stomp 0:24
03. Spirit Of Maasluis 0:01
04. Association 2:00
05. Or Alternatively Nine 4:17
06. One To Three 2:00
07. P.C. One 1:15
08. Toverbal 1:00
09. Toverbal Sweet 12:06
10. Jasper And Out 5:26
11. The Un-Tempered Klavier And Heavy Friends 6:02

Recorded live at De Toverbal, Maassluis, Holland, May 4, 1971.

Drums, Percussion – Pierre Courbois
Electric Piano, Piano – Jasper Van't Hof
Soprano Saxophone – Lol Coxhill

Another great one from Lol Coxhill, a man who should be one of britains national treasures, as great a saxophonist as ever was,yep in my view that is, the equal of Coltrane, Parker, Lester Young, Ayler, Marion Brown , Lacy you name it.

If this sounds like offensive hype, i suggest checking out his extensive ouevre for yourselves. Coxhill remains (despite greater exposure in more recent years)just a name to most jazz fans.

heres a bit of a bio from the euro free improv pages

Organised club sessions comprising live contemporary jazz plus recordings of modern jazz musicians such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Lennie Tristano, Miles Davis and Stan Kenton. From 1950 to 1951 he was 'temporarily inconvenienced by national service in the Royal Air Force' but for the rest of that decade he was a member of: Denzil Bailey's Afro-Cubists (Dizzy Gillespie, Machito compositions/ arrangements); the Graham Fleming Combo touring US air bases in England (Gerry Mulligan/Chet Baker compositions); and Sonny G and the G Men (R&B, standards). He also guested with established British contemporary jazz players, including Joe Harriott, Tubby Hayes, Oxford University Jazz Band as well as playing solo jazz and improvisations on the saxophone. Much of the early to mid 1960s was taken up with touring and accompanying/supporting visiting US artists such as Rufus Thomas (with the television and video release of Walking the dog), Martha & the Vandellas, Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Mose Allison, and to some extent this continued into the 70s with tours by Otis Spann, Champion Jack Dupree, Lowell Fulson and Alexis Korner. However, between 1968 and 1972 Coxhill formed 'Delivery' with Steve Miller, Jack Monck, Pip Pyle and Phil Miller, was a member of the 'Whole World' with Kevin Ayers, David Bedford, Mike Oldfield and numerous drummers, as well as performing in the Coxhill/Bedford duo and the Coxhill/Steve Miller duo. The twelve years from 1973 saw Lol Coxhill become more well known as an improvising musician and solo player, with appearances thoughout Great Britain, Europe, the US, Japan and Canada. At the same time he undertook numerous collaborations with improvisors (as a member of Company), jazz musicians (as a member of the Brotherhood of Breath), rock and blues musicians (The Damned), as well as appearing with experimental theatre groups such as Welfare State. Other collaborations included Trevor Watts 'Moire Music', The Spontaneous Music Ensemble, and AMM. The Recedents (with Roger Turner and Mike Cooper) was formed in this period to perform electro-acoustic improvisations and has been a long-standing interest along with the Melody Four (with Steve Beresford and Tony Coe) - performing original and standard songs, film music, theatre music, jazz and improvisations - a duo with Pat Thomas, a duo with Adam Bohman (both electo-acoustic improvisations though of a rather different hue) and membership of the Dedication Orchestra. Lol Coxhill has also worked occasionally in television and films with a part in Sally Potter's London story, Ken Campbell and Nigel Evans' The madness museum and Derek Jarman's Caravaggio.

National Steel guitarist Mike Cooper, once said he thought lol's relative obscurity was a consequence of his lack of, self salesmanship combined with the fact that he was always too busy just living and breathing music, and raising his children as a single father. if talent and boundless imagination determined a musicians financial status ,lol coxhill would be a multi millionaire celebrated throughout the world as one of the most singular jazz giants of the last 50 years. i say jazz ,because no matter what the setting, wether with free improvisers a rock band, or playing hawaian music, Coxhill always sounds jazzy and joyously so this album may not be his best and it was pretty poorly recorded ,no doubt on a shoe string budget, but coxhill is riveting from first to last. at times his companions seem to provide a 3rd rate canterbury style fusion, most of the nuance in the drumming and the electric piano parts are blotted out my the one dimensional sound .This album was briefly it seems reissued with extra material in 1997, but is not listed on their websites catalog, and references to it are pretty few and far between. we are assuming therefore with a high level of certainty that its OOP. if the cd ever comes back in print snap it up!

Steve Miller & Lol Coxhill - 1972 - Coxhill/Miller/Miller/Coxhill

Steve Miller & Lol Coxhill 

01. Chocolate Field
02. One for You
03. Portland Bill
04. Will My Thirst Play Me Tricks / The Ant About to Be Crushed Ponders Not the Wherewithal of Boot Leather
05. Maggots
06. Bath '72
07. Wimbeldon Parts
08. Gog Ma Gog

- Steve Miller / grand piano (1-4), Wurlitzer piano (8), Wurlitzer electronic percussion (4,5)
- Lol Coxhill / soprano saxophone, Wurlitzer electronic percussion (4,5), tapes (6)
- Richard Sinclair / bass guitar (2,4,5)
- Pip Pyle / drums (2)
- Phil Miller / guitar (2)
- Laurie Allan / percussion (3)
- Archie Leggett / bass guitar (3)

Lol Coxhill (1932-2012), born to a musically interested family and exposed to lots of different genres in his youth, was an experimental jazz saxophonist who had specialised in solo improvisation on the soprano saxophone. He was one of the few saxophonists who also treated his instrument with electronic effects, such as playing through a guitar amp or the erratic Gibson Maestro system. His eclectic musical influences, a ceaseless will to experiment and his habit of busking in the streets allowed him to socialise with a lot of different musicians, not only those from the so-called Canterbury Scene, but also folk rock legend Ashley Hutchings and punk group The Damned.

Steve Miller (1943-1998), the elder brother of guitarist Phil Miller, had been influenced heavily by all sorts of blues, soul and boogie-woogie music when he began playing the piano. In his whole career, apart from a brief Hammond organ solo for Caravan, he only played acoustic and electric pianos, often playing quick moves with a tight groove, but also bringing in a certain melancholy in the more introspective moments, mainly in his solo pieces.

Both played together for the first time in 'Delivery' in the late 1960s, an early Canterbury-based band in which many later Canterbury projects such as National Health and Hatfield & The North had their seeds. After Lol Coxhill played in Kevin Ayers' band 'The Whole World' for a couple of months in 1970 he did some session work for Caravan in 1971 when Steve Miller was the keyboarder of the band for a short time.

All recordings published by the Coxhill-Miller duo were recorded between late 1971 and 1974 and venture into many different realms. The pieces by Lol Coxhill are often free-form improvisations on overdubbed saxophones, but also show him experimenting with electronic percussion instruments, tapes and ambient textures. Steve Miller worked mostly on the border between pastoral piano music and tightly structured jazz fusion. What makes these recordings interesting for Canterbury afficionados are the different interpretations of well-known Canterbury compositions and the ? sometimes unexpected ? collaborations of 10 renowned musicians of that scene during the course of the duo's discography. All recorded relics with a sufficient sound quality were collected in the 2007 reissue of the band's work. Many of the recordings show Canterbury musicians from a very different angle to how they are usually regarded based on their more noted works. Apart from the contributions of Archie Legget, Robert Wyatt and Laurie Allan on the 1974 'The Story So Far..Oh Really?' record the re-issue also contains the legendary 1972performance of the enhanced Delivery line-up (with Richard Sinclair on vocals) which, in the end, became Hatfield & The North.

Coxhill & Miller is a line-up which, first of all, doesn't exist any more. Steve Miller, a gentle and often self-conscious musician, died way too early of cancer in 1998. Lol Coxhill, the quintessentially British saxophonist with his typically wry playing style, passed away in 2012 aged 80. Both musicians were part of Delivery, one of the embryonic bands of the Canterbury Scene, which - mostly due to Carol Grimes' presence - was too much about conventional blues rock to let these two eccentric musicians do what they were supposed to do: experiment, improvise and compose.

Lol Coxhill later had the possibility to stand in the spotlight with Kevin Ayers & The Whole World, a band which challenged the listeners with a hard-to-digest mix of sunny pop music and avant-garde jazz.

Steve Miller's mere moment of publicity was his brief stint with Caravan in 1972. He audibly wasn't satisfied with that job. The management apparently tried to press him into the role of former organist David Sinclair who had doubtlessly defined Caravan's sound more than any other band member, but after all Miller was a piano player. Miller's brief organ solo in the last part of Caravan's Nothing At All was pretty awful, but an interesting example of what happens if a musician is forced to leave his individuality behind.

Only by chance I found out that these two guys recorded two duo albums together which were lovingly restored and enhanced in 2007 by Cuneiform Records - and I was quite astonished at which musicians contributed to these two records. Nobody seems to know these albums, and most rock websites don't mention them - for a lack of rock in that mixture. This is why I'm glad that the Progarchives decided to add this duo to the Canterbury category, particularly since I believe that these records reveal the true and formerly concealed qualities of both musicians. They are - arguably - the pinnacle of Steve Miller's musical work; I don't know Lol Coxhill's solo albums, but I suppose they are even more exhausting for a rock listener because they mostly don't touch rock music anywhere.

This debut album spawns a different, free, radical and distinctly British take on jazz fusion - and there are more than enough references to the 'Canterbury Scene' to make it a compelling listen for fans of the music which would later be subsumed under that name.

...the album itself...

Miller - Coxhill / Coxhill - Miller is a most complex and tense album, more so than the (relatively, of course) relaxed, catchy and sometimes pastoral The Story So Far - Oh Really?. Both records share the principle of allowing Miller and Coxhill to dominate one LP side each - with variable contributions of the other one.

The debut album was recorded around 1971-1972, a time in which Steve Miller, Lol Coxhill and Phil Miller contributed to Caravan's Waterloo Lily album and in which Miller and Coxhill were soon to revive Delivery which, after several personnel changes, became Hatfield & The North.


Thus it's not astonishing, but certainly a surprise, to hear that Chocolate Field is actually an instrumental, extended and chamberish take on a pretty obscure Caravan track (I won't directly tell you which one - the surprise effect is worth it, even if you only check out the 30-second-sample on Amazon or iTunes). Steve Miller is on grand piano, Lol Coxhill on soprano saxophone, and the pop of the Caravan version is completely replaced by some highly atmospheric parts (for instance 0:35-1:25) with huge piano chords and a lonesome saxophone crying on top of it. At this point it all sounds quite noble and well-behaved, no reverb or delay effects at all, somehow as if Colosseum had recorded their Valentyne Suite in 1840. It's jazz, of course, but it's played as if it were an sonata - dressed up with some very dry humor. Halfway through the track Miller engages in a lengthy piano solo which moves effortlessly from sustained impressionistic notes to dissonant clusters. As soon as Coxhill returns again the whole affair shifts gradually from an unusually liberal fantasia to a completely surreal atmosphere, especially when Steve Miller reduces his accompaniment to pushing down the sustain pedal (plus maybe some keys to enhance the effect for specific notes), allowing the piano strings to resonate with Coxhill's playing. Don't wait for the pleasant main theme to return again - 'relaxation' as such won't come until the next piece.

One For You has been added as a bonus track on a reissue of the Delivery album. I don't know if it's the same or a different take which found it's place there, but this album is where this piece originally belongs to. Around a pretty simple downward chord progression Miller (on grand piano) leads a line-up consisting of Pip Pyle (drums), Richard Sinclair (bass) and Phil Miller (lead guitar) through a captivating mid-tempo jam session; at least it's captivating as soon as you've gotten used to Phil Miller's wicked distortion and the overall overdrive of the record. Lol Coxhill doesn't appear on this track - all soloing is done by Phil Miller, unless you call Richard Sinclair's busy playing 'soloing', too.

The general hi-fi 'overdrive' on the record appears because Coxhill & Miller recorded for Richard Branson's Virgin low-budget Caroline label. The Cuneiforme 2007 reissue is mastered from (mint condition) LPs since there were no master tapes available. Details about the signal chain are mentioned in the booklet. Loud passages sizzle and overdrive a bit, but it's a very good quality after all - a warm and well-defined high-end without any irritating crackles.

With Portland Bill the first signs of the following madness appear. 'Portland Bill' is the name of the southernmost bit of the peninsula of Portland, a beautiful place close to Weymouth (UK). Its beauty is sadly spoiled by lots of plastic rubbish, and by the production of the famous Portland stone. At a high storm force the North Sea spills salty water in the grey sky and the waves crash around the Portland lighthouse which, in turn, warns the seamen with its horn.

I mention this just to give you an impression of a place I 'accidentally' visited at storm force 11. (Fortunately I had this track on my iPod when I was there.) This rough atmosphere is perfectly expressed in this piece, but an easy listen it is definitely not. The background is set by Archie Leggatt - Kevin Ayers' musical partner on Bananamour - who fiddles around on a low-tuned bass without a discernible tonality, and by Laurie Allan - the one who drummed with Gong and (in 1974) with Robert Wyatt - who bangs the cymbals in the background. On top of that Miller and Coxhill celebrate free jazz in its most atmospheric form. It's an endlessly flowing and meandering set of intuitive melodies and noises, and the whole effect is both terrifying and compelling at very same time. But don't wait for a motif or a riff - you'll be disappointed!


Side B, the 'Coxhill side', also comprises three pieces, but it lacks the classicistic influences and rather sticks to some pretty unusual experiments with electric percussion and tapes. Especially this percussion stuff makes it all sound more like 'ambient' than like Stockhausen.

The first piece, bearing the totally Canterburian title Will My Thirst Play Me Tricks/The Ant About To Be Crushed Ponders Not The Where Withal Of Boot Leather, forms kind of a trilogy with Maggots and Bath 72. It starts off in a free-form fashion with bicycle bells, clean guitar playing by Phil Miller and some weird piano and bass guitar noises. After forty seconds Pip Pyle's drums enter, but ironically it's the most unusual device, a primitive drum machine by Wurlitzer, which lends the piece some structure. Both Coxhill and Miller are credited with performing on that machine, and this gives the track a stoic sixteenth rhythm with its mechanic knocking. This is where the whole band revisits a slightly more conventional fusion sound with fuzzy guitar soloing and jazzy licks on grand piano and bass guitar, never abandoning this hectic knocking of the electric percussion. The last thirty seconds are Coxhill's solo of a tuned component of this machine, perhaps the 'marimba' registration, creating a pretty spacy and drony part which I appreciate a lot. No saxophones here - but instead a Wurlitzer percussion solo. Weird, but inspiring!

Maggots is more of the same, but adds disjointed saxophones which swing and dance in their own peculiar way until Richard Sinclair plays a simple bass riff in inconstant time intervals. Bath 72, finally, is the peripety of the cacophony which Coxhill has gradually prepared over the last few minutes. All electric percussion are now replaced by field recordings of water bubbles, playing children and urban noises which presumably were taped by Coxhill when he was busking in Bath. Roughly in the first four and a half minutes Coxhill plays his imaginative but awkward saxophone lines on one saxophone, then a second (electric) saxophone adds a counterpoint and finally returns some rudimentary tonality. Multi-tracked saxophone sounds, emulating the sound of ducks in a pond, appear in the very end and end this 12-minutes-plus cascade of British free jazz abruptly.

Wimbledon Baths, a short piece for two or three soprano saxophones, reminds me of a pervert form of chamber music. There are some motives and melodies, but Coxhill doesn't work them out. He simply mentions them once or twice. Nobody would argue that this ain't far-out and freaky music, but this distinct mixture of witty humour, a good sense of ambience (or atmosphere), free jazz music and an independent way of soloing (both of Coxhill and Miller) makes this anarchy of sound quite enjoyable for me - even though I'm usually not too much into free jazz.

The relentlessly flowing Gog Ma Gog, which features Miller's only performance on the Wurlitzer electric piano on this album, recalls the boogie music, which - apart from classical music - was the kind of music Steve Miller grew up with in the 1950s. Especially his (few) solos on Waterloo Lily depict this inspiration very well. In elaborately wound moves and vamps Coxhill's and Miller's playing is entangled, but the blues scheme is again 'surrealized' by the occasional weird twists such as Coxhill's trademark saxophone cascades (3:10-3:16, for instance), some stiff cluster chords (around 5:13) and, in general, Steve Miller's deliberately anti-swing playing: where most jazz players groove and play in a laid-back fashion, always a few milliseconds behind the cue, Miller sometimes plays aggressively stabbing, right there on the eighths. This playing style, and the way how Coxhill and Miller approach to and depart from each other regarding the notes and frequencies they're currently playing, are quite amazing and keep me concentrated at least through most of the eight minutes.

Taken together...

...it's pretty clear that this a hugely demanding album. I suppose I would never have made the efforts of obtaining it, weren't it part of the 2007 reissue. But the eclecticism which these two guys injected into free jazz here, taking influence from electronic music, classical music, genuine fusion and blues, is pretty exciting. Furthermore this work allows one to explore the Canterbury Scene, and quite a lot of the participating musicians, from a pretty unusual perspective.

As I've already mentioned, free jazz isn't what I'm usually listening to; this is why I'm only able to decide if I do or don't like this album - I can't rate if there's any album out there which might be better in one way or another. I like this album, but - just like the question how good Stockhausen's Gesang der Jünglinge is - I'm not quite sure how I should rate this. The Story So Far - Oh Really?, however, is the album which touched and inspired me more - maybe because it's closer to the kind of music I usually listen to, maybe too because it's by far less atonal and anarchic.

Lol Coxhill - 1971 - Ear Of The Beholder

Lol Coxhill 
Ear Of The Beholder

01. Introduction
02. Hungerford
03. Deviation Dance
04. Two Little Pigeons
05. Don Alfonso
06. Open Piccadilly
07. Feedback
08. Vorblifa -Exit
09. Insensatez
10. A Conversation With Children
11. Mango Walk
12. Jamaican Rumba
13. Piccadilly With Goofs
14. Rasa - Moods
15. A Collective Improvisation
16. I Am The Walrus
17. The Rhythmic Hooter
18. Loverman
19. Zoological Fun
20. Little Triple One Shot
21. That's Why Darkies Were Born
22. A Series Of Superbly Played Mellotron Codas

Lol Coxhill - soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, percussion, vocals, lotos flute, maracas, flute, fuzz, echo, Mellotron
David Bedford – piano, organ
Dave Dufort – drums
Mike Oldfield – guitar
Ed Speight – guitar
Pierre Courbois – drums
Burton Greene – piano
Jasper van 't Hof – piano
Robert Wyatt – percussions, vocals
Kirwin Dear – guitar

The saxophonist Lol Coxhill  was one of the great characters of British music – generous, gifted and amiably eccentric. He had long been a stalwart of the European jazz and improvised music scene, but he reached all kinds through his collaborations with a wide range of music – Afro-Cuban, R&B, soul, progressive, punk, minimalist, electronic and beyond – while remaining recognizably himself.

He achieved fame of sorts in the early 1970's with the crew of musicians surrounding the former Soft Machine songwriter Kevin Ayers, whose band the Whole World included the contemporary composer David Bedford and the teenage prodigy Mike Oldfield. Coxhill would turn up in all kinds of situations – jam sessions, improv nights and playing solo soprano saxophone by Hungerford bridge on the Thames. (He is thought to be the main inspiration for Real Good for Free, Joni Mitchell's moving paean to buskers, though she changed the instrument played by her hero from sax to clarinet.)

Born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, Coxhill grew up in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, and bought his first saxophone in 1947. As a teenager in the late 1940s, he organised club sessions that mixed live music with 78rpm recordings of the groundbreaking jazz then coming from the US.

After training as a bookbinder and two years of national service in the RAF, he became a busy semi-professional. He developed a practice of playing solo that continued throughout his life. The money for sax lessons with Aubrey Frank came from busking. The entire history of jazz could sometimes be heard in Coxhill's playing, from Dixieland through swing and bebop to the soundbending experiments of the most avant-garde, but a melodic aspect to his performances could charm people who thought themselves allergic to jazz saxophone.

He was a member of Denzil Bailey's Afro-Cubists and toured US airbases in the 1950s with the Graham Fleming Combo, later joining 1960s bands such as the Chessmen and Gass. He guested with performers such as Joe Harriott and Tubby Hayes and toured with visiting US artists including Martha and the Vandellas, Mose Allison, Otis Spann and Rufus Thomas, with whom he appeared (playing tenor sax) on TV, looking cool in sports jacket, shades and shaved head. He finally quit his day job in 1965.

Coxhill acquired a valuable champion in the BBC DJ John Peel, who signed him to his short-lived independent label Dandelion. Ear of the Beholder (1971), the resulting double album, includes solo performances and collaborations with Bedford, Robert Wyatt, the Dutch pianist Jasper van't Hof and the guitarist Ed Speight.

Despite his associations with several wild men of music, from Jimi Hendrix via the Brotherhood of Breath to the Damned, Coxhill eschewed drug culture, saying, in an interview with Jeff Nuttall: "Quite a few people were using various pills and smokes but I was never really interested. I've always felt that I can be more creative if I try to … bring out thoughts naturally."

An encounter at the London Musicians' Collective led to a collaboration with the keyboard player Morgan Fisher on Slow Music (1980), a pioneering album of minimalist, ambient music, based partly on Handel's Largo. Many of the album's hypnotic, glowing timbres were produced by looping and slowing down Coxhill's saxophone phrases, a tribute to the sound and intonation of his playing.

Coxhill had a pleasant voice which could be heard to good effect in his version of I See Your Face Before Me by the Melody Four in 1984, and a more chaotic performance of Embraceable You, at Battersea Arts Centre, London. He occasionally doubled as an actor, for example with the performance art group Welfare State and in Sally Potter's 1992 film Orlando.

Coxhill's personality and versatility made him a popular choice as compere or MC for events and festivals. He knew everyone, he was funny, and if the PA broke down, he could perform a short unamplified solo set, thanks to the years of busking. In the latter part of his career he could be heard with a wide variety of bands and agglomerations on the fringes of the jazz, improvised and alternative music scenes. These included Trevor Watts's Moiré Music, The Recedents, Bob Cobbing's sound poetry group Birdyak, the London Improvisers' Orchestra and duos with Pat Thomas, Lu Edmunds, Veryan Weston and many more.

Famous for his unaccompanied, unorthodox concerts and albums, Lol Coxhill had an immediately identifiable soprano and sopranino style. He was perhaps Steve Lacy's prime rival in getting odd sounds out of the soprano with his wrenching, twisting, quirky solos. While Coxhill was an accomplished saxophonist and could play conventional bebop, his winding, flailing soprano and sopranino lines made him stand out. He actually started playing more conservatively; Coxhill backed visiting American soul and blues vocalists in the '60s, playing behind Rufus Thomas, Lowell Fulson, and Champion Jack Dupree. He worked with pianist Steve Miller's group Delivery in 1969 and 1970, and played with them at the Berlin Music Festival. But his debut album, Ear of the Beholder, established widely diverse directions for Coxhill. During his lengthy career, he worked with bebop, avant-garde jazz, art rock, and even punk musicians, among them Kevin Ayers, Mike Oldfield, Anthony Braxton, Chris McGregor, Trevor Watts, Bobby Wellins, and Company. Coxhill also played with groups ranging from the Damned to the Recedents, Standard Conversions, and the Melody Four.

The avant-garde is an odd beast. In the case of saxophonist/singer Lol Coxhill, that can range from the virtually unlistenable squawk of "Feedback" (which is exactly what the title says) to '30s music hall songs performed with keyboard player David Bedford. Cobbled together from live tapes and a few studio sessions, much of the backing comes from the Whole World, the Kevin Ayers backing band of which Coxhill was a member. But not all: "Rasa-Moods," a 20-minute spontaneous performance taped in Holland, brings in Dutch free musicians for something that travels through moods; "A Conversation With Children" is exactly that; and the cover of "I Am the Walrus" is sung by kids, to offer an odd, disquieting effect. Some pieces work better than others; the solo railway bridge improvisations of "Hungerford," punctuated by passing trains, is the perfect plunge into this record, while "The Rhythmic Hooter" is as close to something normal as it gets here, before descending into "That's Why...Darkies Were Born," an ironic, deliberately anti-racist performance of an old vaudeville hit (as the notes emphasize). The standard "Lover Man" gets a working over, not always with the best result, while "Open Picadilly" is just that, recorded in the open in London's Picadilly. It's a challenging record, and as Coxhill admits at the very beginning (on "Introduction" he disarmingly discusses the disc's successes and failures), it doesn't all work. When it hits, it's excellent; when it doesn't, attention wanders all too easily. But for 1971, aimed at the rock audience via John Peel's Dandelion label, it was decidedly adventurous and daring -- and still is.