Album reviews

Lol Coxhill – ‘Coxhill ‘85 ‘

Lol Coxhill – Coxhill ‘85

(Slam Productions SLAMCD 2114. Album Review by Olie Brice)

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This wonderful record of a 1985 solo Lol Coxhill gig really captures the experience of hearing Lol live in a small venue, something I did more times than I can count. Lol Coxhill was a genius of an improviser, an endlessly inventive melodicist who could and did work with anybody and always sounded like himself. The concert contains all the usual elements of a Coxhill performance – extended free improvisations, bebop heads, standards and hilarious dry commentary all entwined and overlapping.

The recording is of the second of a two night gig at the Gibbs Club in Cardiff. Recorded by Nick Lea – presumably an informal setup – the sound isn’t great and background audience noise is often audible. But in a way both of those things add to the charm – this was one of thousands of similar gigs Lol played, and that’s what it feels like, a relaxed, warm interaction between the improviser and the room. If you loved and miss hearing Lol Coxhill live, this is a fantastic way to be reminded of what that felt like, while if you’re new to his music this would be a great place to start.

It should be noted that this is the last CD that will be released on this important label, SLAM Productions. With 250 releases over a 33 year span, SLAM has been a vital part of the scene. George Haslam – SLAM label boss – has released valuable albums by a wide range of legendary US musicians including Steve Lacy, Mal Waldron, Max Roach, Roswell Rudd and Jaki Byard, giants of the UK scene including Paul Dunmall, Howard Riley and Elton Dean, and also consistently released and supported younger musicians and less well known artists. If you’re reading this George – thank you, the label will be missed.

LINK: Coxhill’85 at Slam Productions

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