Here's a dialog constructive enough to last several lifetimes and this is one of the archive releases of the year. Guitarist Fitz-Gerald hasn't been documented on record anywhere near enough, whilst any addition to the Coxhill discography is always welcome, especially when it captures a moment in time as joyously creative as this one.
Recorded in Edinburgh in September of 1975, the music is happening from the first seconds of the opening "Fairy Dance," where the tone is almost literally conversational, with both musicians positing modest proposals before the music gets more expansive largely at Coxhill's behest. The real quandary is that despite his unassuming lead, however, Fitz-Gerald sets out his own stall in the midst of it. He's a guitarist whose approach to the instrument is entirely his own, a fact which makes the modesty of that discography only more frustrating. As it stands the piece in question here dissolves in irresolution after less than four minutes. It's one of those infrequent occasions when this is just as it should be, though.
The title track is all dialog, with ideas being passed back and forth in abundance. There are passing echoes of Fred Frith in Fitz-Gerald's string manipulations, but that's only a point of reference. His world of sound is radically different, conjured up out of a multiplicity of approaches. Coxhill doesn't so much immerse himself in it, as brings his own world to bear in a way that defines that old one about a meeting of minds. The results are extraordinarily stimulating and almost pointilliste in their attention to and preoccupation with detail.
"Elfin Tree" starts out in relatively agitated fashion, but the music's surface is ruffled in the name of greater concerns. The recording fidelity itself seems to serve the end of the music functioning entirely on its own terms. Coxhill is garrulous here, taking up the conversational cause with aplomb while Fitz-Gerald indulges in some flirtation with convention which proves only transitory. As it is, he's far more at home on sands that shift and the gravitational pull of the music and the demands of the moment combine to make the most potent sounds for mind and body.
Personnel: G. F. Fitz-Gerald: guitar; Lol Coxhill: soprano sax.