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«Soprano – An Homage to Lol Coxhill»
ROOM40, DRM4183

British soprano sax player-free improviser Lol Coxhill passed away in July 2012 when he was 79 years old. He came from the Canterbury school of prog-rock (he was a member of former Soft Machine songwriter, Kevin Ayers’s group with young Mike Oldfield), always improvised on folk motifs and popular songs with a great sense of humor, thought to be the inspiration for Joni Mitchell’s song «Real Good for Free», and played with almost everyone, including Jimi Hendrix and the punk band The Damned. Coxhill articulated his political and aesthetic, poetic and most humane manifesto: free jazz and avant-garde music for ordinary people.

British, Rome-based guitarist-sound artist Mike Cooper met Coxhill during the early 1970s at many festivals both were playing on, but only in the early 1980s, together with drummer-percussionist Roger Turner, they formed the free-improvising trio The Recedents, which survived for more than twenty years (the box set Wishing You Were Here, Freeform Association, documents a live performance from 2008). «To me he was the shaman; the shapeshifter; the joker – the one who exhibits a great degree of intellect or secret knowledge and uses it to play tricks or otherwise disobey normal rules and defy conventional behavior», tells Cooper. Cooper organized Soprano – An Homage to Lol Coxhill not only as an homage but also to offer an opportunity for fellow soprano saxophone players to show Coxhill’s lasting legacy. All royalties from this album will go to Coxhill’s wife, Uli.

Soprano offers eleven duos of Cooper, mostly focusing on raging electronics, with like-minded, bold, risk-taking and idiosyncratic soprano sax players, including John Butcher, Michel Doneda, Elliott Sharp, Gianni Gebbia, Max Nagl and Jon Raskin. There are no details about where and when these duos were recorded, but all seek to move beyond familiar comfort zones and push the soprano sax into unchartered, often eccentric and abstract sonic terrains, obviously, with a distinct array of extended breathing techniques, and all evoke beautifully the restless, adventurous and mischievous spirit of Coxhill.

Cooper recommends Barbara Schwarz’s book The Sound of Squirrel Meals: The Work Of Lol Coxhill (Blackpress, Hamburg, 2006) for further reading for a discography, anecdotes and interviews with Coxhill.

Eyal Hareuveni

Mike Cooper (guitasr, electronics), John Butcher (saoprano saxophone), Michel Doneda (saoprano saxophone), Elliott Sharp (saoprano saxophone), Errico Di Fabritiis (saoprano saxophone), Josep Galiana (saoprano saxophone), Gianni Gebbia (saoprano saxophone), Max Nagl (saoprano saxophone), Aaron Hawkins (saoprano saxophone), Jon Raskin (saoprano saxophone), Larry Stabbins (saoprano saxophone), Terry Day (saoprano saxophone)