269

Lol Coxhill: Digswell Duets (1978)

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Lol Coxhill: Digswell Duets (1978) You'll have to forgive me here if I toot Lol Coxhill's horn, because he certainly toots it just fine on his own. Saxophonist Coxhill is an extremely versatile player who has played in settings ranging from punk rock to abstract free improvisation. His sense of melody and time are particularly distinctive, drawing more heavily from the jazz tradition than many of his fellow British free improvisers. This recording marks an unusual pairing of duet partners: Simon Emmerson, an electronic artist whose palette largely consists of Coxhill's playing thrown back at him in real-time; and Veryan Weston, a light-fingered pianist whose attention to melody and pulse closely reflect Coxhill's own.

Let's get the ugly details taken care of up front: these are live analog recordings from 1978, and the sound quality lags far behind what you'd find in today's recording studio. Enough on that subject; the shortcomings are definitely audible but do not substantially interfere with the music. The first six duets consist of Coxhill's conversations with himself through the medium of Simon Emmerson. Coxhill works patiently here, pursuing held tones and well-articulated intervals which provide his partner fuel for the fire. The rich reverb drenching the whole interaction competes with delay for the listener's attention, but the most exciting moments are when Emmerson distorts the saxophonist's tone into sharp metallic shards or multichromatic hunks of sound.

You can hear Coxhill striding forward on the left channel, while Emmerson gradually builds up tension on the right and eventually chases him around the field. It's early stuff, so we're talking basic tools here... none of the computerized gadgetry that dominates interactive improvisation today. But it's done in real time, and the spirit of improvisation pervades both artists' work.

The second half of the disc consists of mostly short pieces featuring Coxhill and pianist Veryan Weston. The call-and-response motif pops its head up here and there, as the two players feel each other out in the moment in order to determine where they're headed. For the most part, they pursue sparse, melodic improvisation. The melody may fragment or implode, but most of the time one or the other of these two players is holding up a flag in the wind. (For overpowering evidence of the latter, check out their version of "Embraceable You," which concludes with a clever and very jazzy jam.)

Coxhill mostly sticks to clean tones, though he demonstrates a mastery of swooshing legato runs that blur the distinctions between their endpoints. (And he's not at all opposed to sighing, whistling, or crying in the night.) Weston is a fantastic foil, because he understands the importance of space. While he's not averse to simple lines, he often works in clusters of clusters: simple repeated or modulated pinches of the keys. At times he borrows from atonality, but when you listen closely you can usually find that local tonal centers agree heartily with the saxophonist. And Weston's pulse has an undeniable logic, though it might not hit the ground every two beats.


Track Listing: First Encounter Part One; First Encounter Part Two; First Encounter Part Three; Side One Part One; Side One Part Two; Additional Ending; Side Two Part Four; Side Two Part Two; Very Short Piano Solo; Side Two Part Five; Embraceable Who?; Embraceable You; Side Two Part Three; More Substantial Piano Solo; Side Two Part One; I Can't Get Started.

Personnel: Lol Coxhill, soprano saxophone; Simon Emmerson, electronics; Veryan Weston, piano.

| Record Label: Emanem | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Heads & Tales Volume 2" CD/LP/Track Review Heads & Tales Volume 2
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 28, 2016
Read "The Magical Forest" CD/LP/Track Review The Magical Forest
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 6, 2016
Read "Live At the Stone" CD/LP/Track Review Live At the Stone
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 29, 2016
Read "Funk 'n' Feathers" CD/LP/Track Review Funk 'n' Feathers
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: August 7, 2016
Read "Lowdown Hoedown" CD/LP/Track Review Lowdown Hoedown
by Paul Rauch
Published: January 18, 2017
Read "Nessuno" CD/LP/Track Review Nessuno
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 30, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!