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Lol Coxhill / Veryan Weston: Boundless

Robert Spencer By

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Lol Coxhill is quite a case, eh wot? He can gibber on his soprano saxophone with the best of them (cf. the brief opener, "School Test"), but he can also play acidly lyrical lines (which may be why the second track is named "Slurry," which as far as I know is the gooey sweet stuff that ultimately hardens into jelly beans). Coxhill is an original who can play inside and out, as this collaboration with pianist Weston amply illustrates.

Weston is a sensitive pianist whose support of Coxhill's lines is telepathic. His playing suggests what Herbie Hancock might sound like if he dove off the deep end and abandoned changes, conventional form, and any recognizable scale once and for all. In other words, he favors pointillist, occasional dropping-in on Coxhill's wanderings, rather than a steady Cecil Taylor approach. He is very much the accompanist to Coxhill's lead.

Coxhill is a largely unacknowledged master of the soprano saxophone. His quirky lines are indebted to no one: not Bechet, not Lacy or Parker (with both of whom he has famously played duets), not even Kenny G. He chirps and mutters sometimes ("Coxhill's Major Demand," "Should Fit in Well with the Rest," "School Test," etc.) like Parker on tenor – this effect is not one Parker indulges in on soprano. Lol can weave long hypnotic lines ("Straight On") or declaim with an admirable architectural sense ("Blues in Suspense"). He and Weston spar (on the aptly-named "Jabs & Rings"). They commiserate ("Grey Day at Mumbles"). They play games ("Different from the Rest").

"Sneeze" begins with one, but is otherwise the setting for some dot-to-dot work by Coxhill and his partner. On "Weston Lingers Longer," our heroes creep into some heretofore uncharted territory. "Jaunts and Meanders" and "Slightly Tipsy Turvy" are aptly named. And, after a rather lengthly "Epilogue," there we are.

Coxhill is under-recorded. All saxophonists can learn from him. And any lover of free music will find much to love on Boundless.

| Record Label: Emanem | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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