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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Alex Ward and Lol Coxhill - Old Sights, New Sounds (Incus 2011) ****

Reviewed by Joe

It's great fun to listen to live duets and so see (or rather hear) what improvisers get up to when placed in the same space. The answer is true improvisation, a coming to the fore of the improvisers art in reacting to stimulation from another performer. To add to the fun when it's to blowers you often get to hear some of the finest performances that these players are capable of, there's nowhere to hide, and they already know the other instruments possibilities.

On this CD release you get the splendid clarinettist Alex Ward happily duelling away with soprano sax king Lol Coxhill - a true legend in his own lunch break if there ever was one. Lol has been on the scene for a long time, improvising in just about every situation, from punk rock bands to solo outings in swimming pools and many more besides. His work here with Alex Ward is wonderful to hear, full of his usual snake like lines, harmonics, over-blowing and witty melodic twists that have become Lol's trademark. Alex Ward matches him line for line with a wonderful fluency that only comes from someone who has not only mastered technique but also is able to use it in a truly musical way. Together they make quite a team.

One can't really break down any of the tracks individually as this is an album which I can imagine seeing live, it's about two performers feeding of each others ideas. In fact one reason why I don't give this more stars is that although this is a thoroughly rewarding listen it certainly breaks no new ground, and (strange as it may sound) somehow I don't think it was meant to. Each track holds your attention from beginning to end with plenty of energy and surprises keeping you fixed to your seat. Ward and Coxhill improvise in the old school ethic of 'let's just play and see what happens', it's good fun and very listenable. What more do you need from two of the great blowers on the UK free jazz scene?

Highly recommended.  

* = There are 7 tracks, however, one of my tracks had nothing on it! I don't know if this was a fault on the CD - sound files that we get sent - or a musical joke. Check with your local stockist before purchasing.

© stef


Anonymous said...

There are seven full tracks on my cd.

joesh said...

Hi (Alex, or Lol?)

Thanks for the info. It sometimes happens that we get a corrupted file on the downloads, I guessed there must be a track .... but sometimes there are surprises.

Thanks, nice album.