Lol Coxhill is little-known but he is actually one of the first saxophonists to perform solo, and this disc contains the twenty-two minute "Festival Solo," a piece for soprano - Coxhill's saxophone of choice - that shows his range, imagination, and architectonic power.
But there is much more here as well. The discs begins with Coxhill on sopranino, or Eb soprano saxophone, playing a solo and three duets with Stevie Wishart, who plays violin on two and hurdy-gurdy on the other. With Wishart on violin for "First Rare Duet" and "Third Rare Duet," Coxhill explores the sopranino as a percussive instrument and squeaks, sputters, and squawks in remarkable congruence with the violin's upper registers. With Wishart on hurdy-gurdy for the "Second Rare Duet," Coxhill spins a fragile and idiosyncratic melody while the Wishart provides a creaking drone.
"A Rare Sopranino Solo" swirls and shrieks, flashes across the sky, and creates in its very disjunction a conjunction of space and time held together by Coxhill's peculiar but undeniable magic. Back on soprano for a duet with Marcio Mattos (cello, live electronics), Coxhill returns to the same sputtering, mewling strategy he pursued with Wishart. This track's success comes from Mattos' sensitivity to Coxhill's lead, and to the contrast in instrumental timbres. Late in this track comes one of Coxhill's melodic outpourings, which are always effective.
On "The Festival Solo" Coxhill makes full use of his considerable bag of tricks, from the highest extremes of the upper register to the most ducklike squawks and, yes, fragile melodic tendrils. A tour de force.