JJ 10/82: Lol Coxhill/Dave Holland -The Johnny Rondo Duo

Forty years ago, Barry McRae reckoned this mixture of improvisations and 'occasional melodies' proved Coxhill was a remarkable jazz musician. First published in Jazz Journal October 1982


‘Johnny Rondo’ is a collective title and there have been several ver­sions of the group dating from 1974. This record, live at the Floz Club in Berlin, was Holland’s first (he is not the famous bass player) and Cooper had specially joined the duo for the gig.

True to the opening announce­ment, the group play free improvisa­tions as well as ‘occasional melodies’. The latter are treated to fairly straight variations and this suits Coxhill’s natural lyricism, but more significantly Holland seems happiest when involved in this tune playing.

The completely free parts elicit different responses. Holland’s phrasing is slightly square and there is a certain Brubeckian heavy hand­edness in his delivery. Strangely this does not throw Coxhill at all, and he embarks on several quite remarkable creative flights, most notably on Variations V and VI.

Cooper’s terse angularity suits this aspect of the music best, he pro­vides an extra contrapuntal layer and makes no attempt to maintain con­tinuity. The stylistic extremes, from lilting melodic variation to fierce free improvisation, might sound incon­gruous. What they actually prove is that Coxhill is a remarkable jazz musician in a group that comple­ments him rather well.

Russian Dance; Floz Variations IV; Frog Dance; Caucasian Splinter Mystery; Floz Variations V (21.45) – Scales; Floz Variations VI; Floz Variations VII; Floz Variations VIII; Russian Dance (Reprise) (21.30)
Lol Coxhill (ss); Dave Holland (p); Mike Cooper (g). Berlin, 3/5/80.
(Free Music Production SAJ 29)