Listening to soprano saxophonist, Lol Coxhill on Success With Your Dog
, it is tempting to dwell on the thought that Coxhill pushes the straight horn further, much further, than the late Steve Lacy
. It is, of course, natural. Coxhill emerged around the same time as Lacy, and both men came long after Sidney Bechet
, and the man who sent them on their journey of musical discovery, John Coltrane
. By this time, both men's paths had been made clear, and in the duo setting of Success With Your Dog
, Coxhill finds himself in the vaunted company of percussionist Roger Turner, one of the brilliant founding members of the improvised music scene in and around London, England. Both men shape the music like imaginative musical sculptors, fashioning, with deft touches of tone and timbre, music that is brazen, experimental and full of dramatic twists and turns in each and every song.
Coxhill is one of the most adventurous saxophonists of his generation. He combines both brimstone and fire, and a state of grace that might find him snorting and growling and letting fly in short, sharp bursts at one time, then laying into long, swinging lines that dart and burst through a musical miasma that hangs low and ominous over the proceedings the next; one moment bright and cheerfully, another, dark and lonesome. He swings deep and low, flutters high and mightily, soaring above where melody might lie, harmonizing with sky and cloud. On "Paying Through the Nose," "A Collar Counts" and "Tails That Wag"three songs relating to the ironic title of the albumCoxhill also makes a wry comment on the state of the social relationship between man and his best friend. But Coxhill is not alone here; Turner keeps up with the soprano saxophonist with his masterful and arrhythmic timekeeping.
Turner is blasé, caressing his skins with brushes, and churning his arms in wide arcs, as he lands askance on tom toms and tympani. His accents are brilliantly staccato when they need to be, and gentle and legato when he must glide around the sharply inclined soprano, especially through the long and dark passages of "A Collar That Counts." There are times when the music calls for authority and Turner thunders then, with sticks on tympani, and the steady rat-a-tat-tat of his snares. At times like these, especially in the latter part of "A Collar That Counts" and on the circular riff that surrounds "Tails That Wag" and beyond, Turner brings his full artistry to bear, as he pokes and prods at his assortment of percussion, challenging Coxhill to go beyond the structure of the song. Here cymbals swish and shimmer, bells clang and tinkle. At times it feels as if Turner were hammering his drums with rim shots struck with great pieces of metal, so metallic, melodious and delicate is his drumming.
"Groomed For The Job," is forlorn, and brilliantly evocative of a strut aimed at showcasing the finale of the story, in tragic-comic manner, of this splendid album.