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Remembering Tony Oxley: Combination


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The sad news of the passing of free-spirited English drummer/percussionist Tony Oxley on December 26, 2023, is tempered by the knowledge that his was a life well lived, and his musical legacy a lasting one. As a member of Ronnie Scott's house band in the latter half of the 1960s, Yorkshireman Oxley played with some of the greats of American jazz, and in later decades he would forge a notable musical partnership with Cecil Taylor that bequeathed a dozen live albums.

He was the drummer on John McLaughlin's debut as leader, Extrapolation (Marmalade Records, 1969), and it was in the milieu of the European jazz avant-garde that he is probably best remembered, collaborating with Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, John Surman, Norma Winstone, Kenny Wheeler, Barry Guy, Tony Coe, Alan Skidmore ... the list is a long one.

Oxley was admired on both sides of the Atlantic, toggling between dates with the likes of Bill Dixon, Anthony Braxton, Bill Evans and Paul Bley, and European free-jazz royalty such as Tomasz Stańko, Alexander von Schlippenbach and Peter Brötzmann.

This live solo performance from 1991 clocks in at just shy of three minutes, but it gives a tremendous flavor of the freedom and invention with which Oxley played his merry way.

Tony Oxley: June 15, 1938 -December 26, 2023.

Ian Patterson Contact Ian Patterson on All About Jazz.
Ian is dedicated to the promotion of jazz and all creative music all over the world, and to catching just a little piece of it for himself.

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