Musical archeology has become somewhat of a trend these days. It might be explained, in part by the rebirth of vinyl and the excavation of long out-of-print titles, but also there are scores of devoted collectors who've discovered unpublished recordings of significant artists. For the serially neglected avant-garde of jazz, some of these finds have been significant. Albert Ayler's Holy Ghost: Rare And Unissued Recordings (1962-70) (Revenant, 2004) box set and the more recent Centering: Unreleased Early Recordings 1976-1987 (No Business, 2012) that documents the early work of bassist William Parker, come to mind. Out Loud a well ...read more
Producer Michael Anderson has unearthed yet more music from the ESP-disk vaults to complement tenor saxophonist Frank Lowe's Black Beings (ESP-disk, 1974), the session which announced the Memphis-born reedman's arrival as leader on the NYC jazz scene. Recorded at the same date, reputed to be from Ornette Coleman's Prince Street loft, The Loweski adds another 37-minutes of quintessential fire music to his legacy. Lowe was a very different proposition then to his mature persona, coming out of late period John Coltrane and Albert Ayler, rather than the melodic though bracingly off-kilter phrasing which evoked shades of Chu Berry and Ben ...read more
The age of the LP was often one of compromise for jazz musicians. Given the restrictions on playing time, recordings had to be edited to fit. This meant a loss of ideas and of development with the truncated versions being shadows of the whole. The emergence of the CD has seen the revival of music with the whole performance included. Sometimes the edits were better, but many times the complete picture brings in a deeper dimension and impact. The latter sensibility grabs this recording which has fifteen minutes added to In Trane's Name" and Thulani."
Recorded in 1973, ...read more
Few musicians in any category combine violinist Billy Bang's intrinsic understanding of his instrument's tradition with the adventurousness associated with the New York City loft scene of the 1970s and wrap it up in an inside-out style honed and refined over the course of a thirty-plus year career. For the last few years Bang has been enjoying a creative peak, particularly as a member of the William Parker Violin Trio, which released Scrapbook (Thirsty Ear, 2003), and as the leader of his own projects that draw on his experiences as a Vietnam veteran. Longtime friend and collaborator, ...read more
When Frank Lowe plays his tenor saxophone, you get the sense that just as much effort is being spent on holding back as there would be in pouring it all out. That doesn't mean the total effort is less, merely that Lowe's restraint allows the listener some space to enter the tunes. On Lowe-down & Blue, the Frank Lowe Quartet delivers straight-ahead jazz, usually tasteful and spare, occasionally free, but always honest and swinging. Who Does She Hope to Be" is a gentle tone poem defined by Lowe's fragility as he flutters the reed in a whispery ...read more
Certain musicians wear their humanity on their sleeves. It bleeds out in their music, whether the facility and prowess is there or not. Frank Lowe falls easily into this camp. The years have not been kind to him, and from a purely technical standpoint his chops have noticeably eroded under the stress. But in creative music, naked technique is only the tip of the iceberg. Pathos and passion are far more relevant and sustaining, and in these areas Lowe still excels. If anything, the earnest vulnerability and accompanying occasional foibles that shadow his playing accentuate, rather than hinder, his ability ...read more
In a prior life, I did buying for Tower Records. As a buyer, aside from the weekly visits from record reps pitching product, I would get requests from customers. One customer in particular thought he was king. A rather obnoxious long in the toother, this fella was old timing, giving me lectures on how Kenny G shouldn't be in the jazz section (as if the marquee on the storefront read something remotely similar to my name) and how he used to go and see Charlie Parker when he was a kid in Los Angeles. But when it came to record ...read more