21 ottobre 2012

Mike Westbrook ricorda i giorni della Brass Band con Lol Coxhill: Lol Remembered. Il testo è nel numero di ottobre 2012 dello Smith's Academy Informer.

Lol Remembered
One summer’s day, in the early 70s, in Bath, Phil Minton (trumpet) and I (valve trombone) ran into Lol Coxhill (soprano saxophone) on the Pulteney Road. The Brass Band was born, though it only acquired a name much later. The three of us began to get invitations to play for fringe theatre companies: The Bath Arts Workshop (who ran the Alternative Bath Festival), The John Bull Puncture Repair Kit, The Welfare State and others. These groups employed us, and costumed us, as they thought fit. We might be kitted out as Detectives, or Sailor Boys, depending on the show. The change from the heavily equipped and amplified jazz/rock of Solid Gold Cadillac to acoustic street music came as a relief. The concept of a mobile group, playing whatever any of the musicians wanted to play, and performing anywhere that anybody asked them to play, was as simple as it was profound. Paul Rutherford soon joined on trombone, a refugee from the confines of the jazz world. Kate, fresh from the Performance Art melting pot of Leeds, took up tenor horn and the group’s classic five piece line-up was complete.
In the early days gigs were ramshackle affairs. There were no scripts and hardly any arrangements. Lol had a line in excruciatingly unfunny jokes delivered deadpan. Another of his great attributes, which he was later to exploit with Tony Coe and Steve Beresford in the Melody Four, and that might surprise those who only knew him in an improvised music context, was that he knew hundreds of tunes, which he could play in any key, including many obscure ones. He was the only other person I ever met who remembered Brigitte Bardot, Bardot. In fact it always seemed to me that his ‘free’ improvisations were always full of tunes, melodic fragments and references.
At first the band had no plan. It simply responded to whatever was going on around it. It couldn’t go on like it forever, but that phase was great while it lasted. When, inevitably, the band started to get a bit tighter and more organized Lol, who never really wanted to belong to any club that wasn’t his own, dropped out. Dave Chambers came in on soprano. By then Lol had bequeathed us a gem from his seemingly inexhaustible repertoire, a calypso he’d got from an old 78. We played it ever afterwards, hundreds of times, on piers, park bandstands, in schools, factories, hospitals, on demos and on the backs of lorries. For Hot Jamboree, and so much besides, thank you, Lol!

Mike Westbrook
(Smith's Academy Informer no. 93, October 2012)