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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke

Lol Coxhill - soprano & tenor saxophone, slide saxophone, vocal with various personnel including Bruce Turner and Tony Coe.
Recorded 1954 - 1999.
Double CD : EMANEM 4204



1. Autumn In New York
2. Bad Boy
3. Strictly Legal
4. Vermilion Sands
5. Not The North
6. Three Go To Letchworth
7. Embraceable You / Quasimodo
8. Union Dues
9. Turned Out Nice Again
10. Happy Birthday Bob Cobbing
11. I Thought About You
12. Aquaslide
13. Experiments With Temperature
14. Messin' With The Man

1. A Brief Introduction To Sax
2. Magic Buffalo
3. Uptown Top Ranking
4. Perdido
5. Out Of Nowhere
6. Brits Abroad
7. Tourism In Crisis
8. Verstehen Und Sprechen
9. Murder In The Air
10. Sweet Hawaiian Kisses
11. Victory Walk
12. C.A.K.
13. Resonance
14. Introduction To The Orchestra

"Spectral Soprano" is a real curate's egg of a compilation. The note on the back cover describes it as "solo and group improvisations 1954-1999, R&B, Jazz, electronics, spontaneous music, an open rendition of an old play and the odd bit of singing." This is basically a retrospective view over the career to date of Lol Coxhill. On first listening I must admit to being quite disappointed in this release . However, on repeated playing I have found far more of interest here, although there are still quite a few tracks I would find it difficult to recommend to the vast majority of Jazz followers. Perhaps part of the reason for this is that many of the pieces would, strictly speaking, fall into other categories such as electronic music or musique concrete. I realise that music is often beyond category, but for the purposes of this review, it would seem correct to approach these pieces from a "Jazz" viewpoint.

Although now better known as a soprano player, Coxhill was, in his early days, quite a capable modern/mainstream tenor saxophonist a la Zoot Sims or Wardell Gray as can be heard on the earliest tracks such as "Autumn In New York" and "Out Of Nowhere". Another side of his tenor playing can be heard on the R&B style track, "Bad Boy", which sounds like the local pop group at the youth club with Coxhill doing a rather heavy handed King Curtis impression.

"Strictly Legal " is much more interesting, a solo soprano performance intended to evoke the atmosphere of a street busker, which is a role that was filled by the artist in London during the late 1960's. "Embraceable You/Quasimodo" and "I Thought About You" serve to illustrate the more conventional side of Lol Coxhill, featuring some fluent and controlled saxophone playing. The collaboration with Tony Coe on clarinet ("Hawaiian Kisses ") is particularly enjoyable and "Uptown Top Ranking " is an unusual take on Althea and Donna's No.1 hit.

Of the more obscure, less "Jazzy " selections I find the instrumental numbers preferable to the ones which feature more dialogue or singing . The exception to this being the amusing "Introduction To Sax"- which gives an unfortunately necessary lesson in spelling.

This disc is the musings of a man who has very varied views to express and is willing to experiment without regard to a constant commercial acceptance. It is well worth repeated listening if only to discover how different music can be more or less palatable depending on one's state of mind.

Dick Stafford.

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