R.I.P. Lol Coxhill (1932-2012) .
Thursday, July 12, 2012
I was sorry to hear from Sebastian Scotney’s London Jazz site of the death of saxophonist Lol Coxhill at the age of 79.
Coxhill had been on my musical radar for a long time, I think I first heard the distinctive squiggling sound of his soprano sax in my teenage years on the 1972 Caravan album “Waterloo Lily”. Coxhill also worked with Robert Wyatt and other leading figures of the “Canterbury Scene” but his career embraced many aspects of contemporary music from punk to the avant garde and he was to become a leading figure on the UK improvised music scene. He was also a very funny man with a quirky quick wittedness that made him a popular compere at all types of festival.
I can’t pretend to have been a particularly avid follower of every aspect of Coxhill’s long and diverse career but my favourite memory of him is of an open air performance at the Brecon Jazz Festival with the group Clear Frame alongside Charles Hayward (drums), the late Hugh Hopper (electric bass) and Orphy Robinson (vibes and steel pan). I wasn’t sure how the playing of four such veterans of the avant garde would go down with the chilled out Bishop’s Garden crowd but Clear Frame’s brand of improvised music proved to be surprisingly melodic and accessible and it was very warmly received by an appreciative festival audience. Hopper’s grooves were irresistible, Robinson’s sounds wonderfully exotic and Coxhill’s soprano sax relaxed, quirky and inventive with Hayward holding it all together.The quartet looked as if they were thoroughly enjoying their music making. It’s a tragedy that two of them have now left us. Their rewarding 2007 album “Clear Frame” represents a lasting legacy and includes a guest contribution from Robert Wyatt on cornet.
Interestingly Jez Nelson’s tribute to Coxhill on Jazz on 3 included archive material featuring a Clear Frame performance.
R.I.P. Lol. Your music and personality enriched the lives of so many.
JAZZ MANN FEATURES
The sun shines on the final day of an excellent festival.
Ian Mann soaks up the vibes at Cheltenham Jazz Festival.