Saturday, August 17, 2019

LOL COXHILL – Digswell Duets (Random Radar Records ‎– RRR 005 / LP-1979)

Label: Random Radar Records ‎– RRR 005
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: US / Released: 1979
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Side A was recorded (11. 5. 78) at Digswell House in Welwyn Garden City, Herts.
Side B was recorded (26. 5. 78) at the Oxford Museum of Modern Art.
Artwork – Lol Coxhill
Artwork [Back Cover Graphics] – Mary Staples
Producer – Lol Coxhill
Matrix / Runout (Runout A, etched): RRR 005 A Pete Helffrich ALT 4-2-80
Matrix / Runout (Runout B, etched): RRR 005 B Pete Helffrich ALT 4-2-80

side 1:
A  -  11/5/78  (Coxhill–Emmerson) ........................................................................... 19:24

side 2:
B  -  26/5/78  (Coxhill–Weston) ................................................................................ 20:00

Lol Coxhill – soprano saxophone
Simon Emmerson – electronics [the digswell tapes system]
Veryan Weston – piano

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.
These are live analog recordings from 1978, and the sound quality lags far behind what you'd find in today's recording studio. The shortcomings are definitely audible but do not substantially interfere with the music.

On the first side of this LP's Coxhill masterful works patiently, 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 LP's consists of mostly short embroidered 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. 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 repairer, 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.

(Review By Staff / AAJ)

If you find it, buy this album!


  1. LOL COXHILL – Digswell Duets (RRR 005 / LP-1979)
    Vinyl Rip/FLAC-96kHz+Artwork (332.59 MB)