Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock Lowen Coxhill, generally known as Lol Coxhill (born 19 September 1932, in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England), is a free improvising saxophonist. He usually plays the soprano or sopranino saxophones.
Coxhill has collaborated with many other musicians during his career, including Kevin Ayers, Steve Miller (ex Caravan), Mike Oldfield, Morgan Fisher (ex Mott the Hoople), Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath, The Dedication Orchestra, Django Bates, punk rock group The Damned, Hugh Metcalfe, Derek Bailey and street theatre performance art group Welfare State.
For many years Lol was compere and occasional performer at the Bracknell Jazz Festival, renowned as a raconteur as well as a musician, indeed it was following a performance at Bracknell that he recorded the legendary monologue Murder in the Air.
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.
Famous for his unaccompanied, unorthodox concerts and albums, Lol Coxhill has an immediately identifiable soprano and sopranino style. He's perhaps Steve Lacy's prime rival in getting odd sounds out of the soprano with his wrenching, twisting, quirky solos. While Coxhill's an accomplished saxophonist and can play conventional bebop, it's his winding, flailing soprano and sopranino lines that make 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 Stephen 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 a new direction for Coxhill. Since then, he's worked with both bebop and free musicians, among them Chris McGregor, Trevor Watts, Bobby Wellins, and Company. Coxhill's also played with such groups as the Recedents, Standard Conversions, and the Melody Four.