Sam Newsome

Sam Newsome
"The potential for the saxophone is unlimited." - Steve Lacy

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

More About Lol Coxhill

Lol Coxhill
Soprano saxophonist Lol Coxhill was the kind of musician who was difficult to typecast. Even though he was widely known for his extensive work as a part of Britain’s improvised music scene--keeping company with the likes of Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, and John Butcher--his musical and artistic endeavors extend far beyond avant garde parameters.

Throughout his eclectic career, Lol has worked with the famed punk band The Damed; the R & B band Tony Knights Chessman, soul singer Rufus Thomas; he has made numerous appearances as a TV and film actor; he has frequently showcased his talents as a crooner in the group Melody Four; not to mention the years spent busking around the UK honing his solo saxophone concept.  Which leaves one to the conclusion that the only thing Lol can be typecast as is an original.

Gianni Mimmo
Here are a few words from soprano saxophonist Gianni Mimmo recounting the encounters he’s had with the late soprano master.

“The first time I listened to Lol was in 1976 in Ferrara, Italy.
 He was playing a solo saxophone concert. In the same evening and in the same place, Gil Evans, Lee Konitz, Anthony Braxton and Richard Teitelbaum were also on the program. Jazz was large at that time.

The last time I saw him (Lol) was at the Vortex in London. I was playing with my trio just before Lol, who was on the program in duo with (guitarist) John Russell.

He had a melodic and liquid and intriguing sound—a soprano father, for sure.
I always recognized something coming directly from Sidney Bechet in Lol's sound, some nasal medium range tones, suddenly flying in the altissimo like a drunk melody. He was one of the fathers of the soprano saxophone and a sweet English man.

I love his way of singing, he has an intimate and warm crooner voice. I still have some LPs and CDs with Lol singing with the Melody Four which featured Lol, Steve Beresford and Tony Coe.

The evening of the day he died I listened to this song which is really moving and sounds like a sort of good-bye to Lol."

Those of you not familiar with the song "I See Your Face Before Me," it's an old Dietz/Schwartz tune that has been covered by all the great crooners from Frank Sinatra to Johnny Hartmann.

This clip should give you some insight into the idiosyncratic depth of Lol's music. Let's face it, how many free players do you know who can croon?

Here are the lyrics if you'd like to follow along:

"I See Your Face Before Me" (music by Arthur Schwartz and words by Howard Dietz)

I see your face before me
Crowding my every dream
There is your face before me
You are my only theme

It doesn't matter where you are
I can see how fair you are
I close my eyes and there you are

If you could share the magic
Yes, if you could see me too
There would be nothing tragic
In all my dreams of you

Would that my love could haunt you so
Knowing I want you so
I can't erase your beautiful face before me


  1. Man, that is just wonderful. Thanks for this little gem, Lol.

  2. Only Lol Coxhill could pull this off!


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