LOL COXHILL soprano saxophone
ROGER TURNER drum set and percussion
1 - PAYING THROUGH THE NOSE - 24:57
2 - A COLLAR COUNTS - 7:00
3 - TAILS THAT WAG - 8:23
4 - GROOMED FOR THE JOB - 17:30
Digital concert recordings:
1-3 - Brest (Cabaret Vauban) by Benjamin Maumus & Cedric Megauk - 2003 May 8
4 - London (St Leonardís Church Shoreditch) by Martin Davidson - 2010 August 12
Total time 58:12
All previously unissued
Elsie Artie (Lol and Roger) probably first met at the Bath Last Resort festival in England in the very early 1970's. They've played in a lot of different combinations since - in marching bands in Welwyn Garden City, in a short-lived incarnation of the Johnny Rondo Trio, in Lol's new orleans-flavoured "Before my Time" band, in lots of ad hoc combinations, and since 1982 most often in the Recedents with Mike Cooper around Britain, Europe and Canada.
The recordings here are from a tour they had as a duo in France, during which they played in the wonderful Espace Vauban theatre in Brest - an old building that has the hotel on the upper floors where the musicians stay, a restaurant on the ground floor where they can eat, and the theatre below where they work. A nice little spot indeed.
The Shoreditch recording reflects something of the church acoustics, and was the first of two sets played there. The building dates from 1740, and its bells are mentioned in the famous nursery rhyme "Oranges and Lemons", a startling fact that not a lot of people might know, as it happens.
"You can hear them tumbling deeper into the wonderland, generating sounds and structures so touchy-feely sculptural you could walk inside them if they weren't on a CD. The frustration is, of course, that Coxhill isn't driven to make more records. Whenever he plays, a whole narrative about the history of the soprano saxophone, from Sidney Bechet and Johnny Hodges to Steve Lacy, via Bruce Turner, sparks into life. But calculating those historical joins clearly isn't the point - during the 58 minutes it takes to play this disc Coxhill remains as poker-faced as a Sphinx.
Even when, four minutes into the second track, Turner lays down a crazy-fast swing groove, Coxhill leaves any concrete statements to some imaginary, non-specific future. Instead, he mines all the gaps, filleting the rhythmic flow and kaleidoscoping the groove into atomised inner grooves. And his melodic concept throws up another carefully considered, conceptual meta-syncopation. The journey between notes is more intriguing than the notes themselves: all those many-headed glissandi, those subtone soliloquies, those chordal rasps reconfiguring done-to-death melodic contours and dramatic arcs.
Turner yanks open space in the first few minutes. Then he slows the regularity of his push, and his cymbal attacks become more resonant and countable. His sensitivity to Coxhill's requirements regularly boils over into outbursts of off-the-leash cartoon violence and, after 13 minutes, his high-velocity tapdancing cowbells move faster than we can listen, impressive like Fred Astaire dancing up the walls. And how to resonate in sympathy with Coxhill's twisting melodic rubble on a drum kit? Turner invokes Duke Ellington's great 1960s drummer Sam Woodyard as skins are needed - and kneaded - to sing like a great soprano."
PHILIP CLARK - THE WIRE 2010
"I love these two improvisers, and this duo outing didnít disappoint for a second: the tongue-in-cheek lyricism of Coxhill, Turnerís craziness dampered by an ultra-light touch. Two live performances, one from May 2003, the other from August 2010. I have no preferences: itís all good, all fascinating, all high-flying European free improv. A must for 2010."
FRAN«OIS COUTURE - MONSIEUR D…LIRE 2010
"The longish opening track is a reminder of another quality that emerges from Coxhill's playing when he's not in buzzing-bee mode: an extraordinary tenderness. The little wisps, beer-bottle poofs, slender taps and tings of Coxhill and Turner's dialogue in the first few minutes are really very sweet, but even more affecting is the quiet empathy between the players. Turner is minimalist without sacrificing the warm sound of a great jazz drummer - sample the tattooed brushwork and heartbeat bass drumming he slips into the middle of the track, for instance, or his occasional moments of lazy grooving - and there's a pitter-patter delicacy to his playing that can hit with the gentle shock of a fresh spring rain. The main performance (three tracks, 40 minutes) dates back to 2003, a very clearly and intimately recorded performance in the Espace Vauban Theatre in Brest. The final track is a curiously low-key 2010 performance in St Leonard's Church in Shoreditch, in which Coxhill barely rises above a murmur throughout, often dropping out entirely to let Turner gently stir the air in church's resonant acoustic. Not bad, but it's the superb, perfectly balanced 2003 duo that will keep you listening to this CD with increasing pleasure and wonderment."
NATE DORWARD - PARISTRANSATLANTIC 2010
"Both men shape the music like imaginative musical sculptors, fashioning, with deft touches of tone and timbre, music that is brazen, experimental and full of dramatic twists and turns in each and every piece.
Coxhill is one of the most adventurous saxophonists of his generation. He combines both brimstone and fire, and a state of grace that might find him snorting and growling and letting fly in short, sharp bursts at one time, then laying into long, swinging lines that dart and burst through a musical miasma that hangs low and ominous over the proceedings the next; one moment bright and cheerfully, another, dark and lonesome. He swings deep and low, flutters high and mightily, soaring above where melody might lie, harmonising with sky and cloud. But Coxhill is not alone here; Turner keeps up with the soprano saxophonist with his masterful and arrhythmic timekeeping.
Turner is blasť, caressing his skins with brushes, and churning his arms in wide arcs, as he lands askance on tom toms. His accents are brilliantly staccato when they need to be, and gentle and legato when he must glide around the sharply inclined soprano, especially through the long and dark passages of A Collar That Counts. There are times when the music calls for authority and Turner thunders then, with sticks on toms, and the steady rat-a-tat-tat of his snares. At times like these, especially in the latter part of A Collar That Counts and on the circular riff that surrounds Tails That Wag and beyond, Turner brings his full artistry to bear, as he pokes and prods at his assortment of percussion, challenging Coxhill. Here cymbals swish and shimmer, bells clang and tinkle. At times it feels as if Turner were hammering his drums with rim shots struck with great pieces of metal, so metallic, melodious and delicate is his drumming.
Groomed For The Job, is forlorn, and brilliantly evocative of a strut aimed at showcasing the finale of the story, in tragic-comic manner, of this splendid album."
RAUL D'GAMA ROSE - ALL ABOUT JAZZ 2011
"The improvisation is at times minimalist in scope, yet the continually moving parts equate into a polytonal feast for one's psyche. Playfully disruptive from an imaginary musical mindset, the duo also acts as prophets of good cheer. Perhaps they fuse the aspects of an angry beast who demands a tasty treat to coincide with incontestable love.
The musicians pull out the proverbial stops on the twenty-two minute opener Paying Through The Nose, by pursuing subtly stated avant-garde jazz motifs with gruff breakouts. Here, Coxhill growls, gnaws and shades via a hodgepodge of subplots and bursting movements. While Turner dishes out contrasting treatments and creative sticking manoeuvres on his drum kit amid intuitive dialogues with the saxophonist.
The duo creates a visual aspect as well. Occasionally, notions of the Dutch American abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning come to fruition because of the duo's intersecting lines and multihued textures woven into a cohesive whole. With the piece titled Tails That Wag, Coxhill underscores some of these sensitivities with a bluesy gait, interspersed with split-tones and jagged notes. Here, the artists' intuitiveness and like-minded faculties emerge with a luminous aura. Hence, these achievements among other attributes are executed by two influential masters of improvisation. Leave it to the pro's as they say."
GLENN ASTARITA - JAZZREVIEW 2011
"Though soprano saxophonist Lol Coxhill and percussionist Roger Turner have a long history together as visionaries and stalwarts of English free improvisation, SUCCESS WITH YOUR DOG is their first official recording together. It captures the pair in two concert recordings from 2003 and 2010, interesting also because Coxhill isn't one to normally work in saxophone-percussion duos. Seventy-one at the time of the first set, recorded in Brest, France in 2003, Coxhill is absolutely on fire, the economy of his uncompromising vision offered up with utmost clarity on this well-recorded document. Despite the odd title, SUCCESS WITH YOUR DOG is rather pure soprano-and-drums improvisation, constant dialogue in both micro and macro textures, clanging, damped rustle, scrapes and jabs from Turner's kit paralleling breathy elaborations into a language that's both shared and separate. Coxhill's squeaky multiphonics on Tails that Wag are almost Ayler-derived. He does, in a moment's notice, bring about a thoughtful wander a la Lacy, but that quest is something older and uninfluenced, soon developing into husky repetition.
Groomed for the Job was recorded in 2010 in a church in London, and honours an environment with both space and claustrophobics. Turner spreads out a bit more as a soloist here, but even that's in the loosest of terms for Coxhill's presence is felt even when he's not distinctly playing (the best duets work this way). There's a wistful, wide-open quality to the opening salvo, bent and stratospherically travelling, while also nodding to deeper timbres and starting the process with a shaking-off of excess. His lines have an unfolding quality as they're gradual and go to unexpected places, often moving off trail only to return to a previous phrase a few bars later with utmost logic and gorgeous honesty. A section for unaccompanied percussion begins a third of the way in, Turner balancing gruff aggression with warped and resonant clang, parcelling out sounds with a lump-in-the-throat arc. The saxophonist returns with medium-pitched warbling at a very low volume, the pair worrying narrow colours and actions before Coxhill strings together a hushed, singsong line, cymbals and toms giving the passage an incredible amount of motion. A brief bomb-drop at thirteen minutes in is mimicked by soprano, a leap into the void spurring Turner into refining his small-phrase world.
SUCCESS WITH YOUR DOG is an absolutely essential document of contemporary English improvisation and a wind-drum duet for the ages. Coxhill's place on an axis with Steve Lacy and Evan Parker as part of the soprano triumvirate of the 1970s and 80s is unimpeachable, but his playing now should not be forgotten. We can be very thankful that this music has surfaced."
CLIFFORD ALLEN - NI KANTU 2011
"A beautiful set of duo recordings of what Derek Bailey referred to as 'non-idiomatic improvisation'. We get four bits from two different concerts recorded seven years apart. Lol Coxhill sounds like no other saxophonist I can think of, his sound a mixture of humour and pathos, his tone a slightly sour one. It is immediately identifiable and completely comfortable. Turner employs his large collection of objects and drum kit in sympathetic ways, sometimes suggesting swing or pulse, but mostly throwing up little piles of percussive debris, clouds of agreement and encouragement for the horn to dance in and through. He conjures street noise and alarm bells, as well as conversation and far-off thunder. The sounds are often surprising and change fairly rapidly, an example of the momentist aesthetic in excelsis.
The whole comes wrapped in yet another beautiful Emanem package; triple-fold with nice black and white photos and Turner's drawings. Should there be any doubt, with players of this caliber around, this form of improvisation will be around for a long time."
JEPH JERMAN - THE SQUID'S EAR 2011
"Oblique textures, stentorian pressures and a cornucopia of whines and squeals on the reedist's side, plus slaps, pops and rebounds from the percussionist enliven the CD. Listening to Groomed for the Job for instance, reveals that Turner and Coxhill are even more simpatico in their interaction. Together they evolve a speech-inflected language whose tessitura depends on heartbeat-close cooperation among equals. On that track, the number of altissimo squeals and violent smacks is kept at a minimum as the two work their way through a languid and moderato intermezzo. Their joint language includes Turner's ingenious shakes and scuffle on drum tops plus wispy and thin - but not shrill - reed tweets from Coxhill.
The selections from Brest appear a little more rhythmically weighty on the drummer's part and filled with more staccato chirp and tongue stops on the saxophonist's. But the end result would never be confused with Energy Music. Turner's strategies include chain rattling, swift snare swabs and buoyant bops that are probably the result of using knitting needles instead of sticks. Meanwhile Coxhill's protracted chirps are as aviary as they are altissimo. Instructively, with the number of concentrated whines and squalling ripostes heard, there are many tones that could literally come from either instrument. On Paying through the Nose for example, after seemingly pushing each instrument's limits, the two settle into a minimalist variant that forges a theme out of Turner's tap-dance rhythms and occasional foot pat and Coxhill's narrow, pressurised and staccato reed blasts. At length, duck-like quacking from the saxophonist and what sounds like aluminium foil crumbling plus press rolls from the drummer convene into a melody-driven finale."
KEN WAXMAN - JAZZ WORD 2011
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