Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



(b Lowen Coxhill, 19 September 1932, Portsmouth, UK; d 9 July 2012) Reeds, especially soprano sax; vocals; also actor. He worked as a bookbinder in Aylesbury, paying for music lessons by busking; served in the RAF '50-1, sat in with R&B groups and UK jazzmen like Tubby Hayes and Joe Harriott, finally turned full-time pro mid-'60s with Tony Knight's Chessmen, backing and appearing in videos with visiting Americans such as Rufus Thomas, Martha and the Vandellas, Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Mose Allison. He played with pianist Steve Miller's Delivery blues band late '60s, Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath mid-'70s, avant-garde group AMM; all the while improvising (often solo) both structured and free: an eclectic, unique musical personality.

Coxhill sessioned on records over the years with Kevin Ayers, the Damned, the Balanescu String Quartet, Caravan, Shirley Collins, Mike Oldfield and many others, and led his own occasional groups. The Melody Four was a trio of Coxhill, Tony Coe and keyboardist Steve Beresford, everybody vocalizing and playing various percussion; albums were Love Plays Such Funny Games, Si Señor!, TV? Mais Oui!, Hello! We Must Be Going!, two volumes of Shopping For Melodies (later on one CD), all '84-8 on Chabada (France). The Dedication Orchestra was a large group including Evan Parker, Louis Moholo, trombonist Paul Rutherford (b 29 February 1940, Greenwich; d 5 August 2007), saxist Elton Dean (b 28 October 1945, Nottingham), pianist Keith Tippett, over 20 more; they made Spirits Rejoice '92 and Ixesha (Time) '94 on Ogun. (See entry for Tippett.) Trio the Recedents including Coxhill, guitarist Mike Cooper and drummer Roger Turner made Barbecue Strut '86 and Zombie Bloodbath On The Isle Of Dogs '86 on Nato (France); Coxill and guitarist Fred Frith made French Gigs '78 and '81 on A.A.A. (France); The Johnny Rondo Duo Plus Mike Cooper '80 on FMP incl. Dave Holland; Coxhill, Steve Lacy and Evan Parker (all on soprano) made Three Blokes '92 on FMP. He played a track on Sept Tableaux Phoniques/Erik Satie '83 on Nato (other tracks by Coe, Holland, Beresford etc).

Coxhill's activities were far too many to list here; he was a musician of generous energy and spirit. His own albums began with Ear Of Beholder '70-1 on Dandelion, a two-LP set with Ayers, Bedford, Oldfield, Robert Wyatt and others. His solo soprano sax recordings included a 12-inch single 'Murder In The Air' '77 on Chiltern Sounds, LP Lid '78 on Ictus (Italy), LP/CD Dunois Solos '81 on Nato, cassette Home Produce '82 on Tago Tago (France), single 'Il Froga Silencio/Disco Dementia' '82 on Umyu (Spain), LP Solo '90 on Shock; Looking Backwards Forwards on Wire Cassette and The Bald Soprano Compilation on Tak Tak Tak were solo compilations, the latter sold with a book. Duos, trios, quartets have been Toverball Sweet '71 on Mushroom, Fleas In Custard '75 on Caroline (with guitarist G. F. Fitzgerald), Diverse '76 on Ogun, Moot '78 on Ictus, Digswell Duets '78 on Random Radar, Slow Music '80 on Pipe, Chanteney 80 on Nato, The Inimitable '85 on Chabada; also quintets The Joy Of Paranoia '78 on Ogun and Before My Time '87 on Chabada; octet Café de la Place '85 on Nato; various groups on Welfare State compilation '73-5 on Caroline, larger groups on Instant Replay '81-2 and Couscous '83 on Nato. Coxhill was the subject of a British Arts Council documentary film Frog Dance; the embellished soundtrack album on Impetus '87 a compilation included Miller, Turner, Cooper, Holland and others as well as solo sax, bagpipes, birds, seals etc. (Pianist Steve Miller d 9 December 1998 of cancer, aged 55.)