There is an exhaustive property to the body of Allen Lowe
's work. Composer, saxophonist, sporadic guitarist who composes on piano, and the author of several noteworthy music histories, he has released nearly two dozen albums. Lowe is a member of the quartet East Axis with Matthew Shipp
, Gerald Cleaver
, and Kevin Ray
. A Love Supine: Ascension into the Maelstrom
is an ambitious double-disc collection recorded in four sessions in 2018. The eighteen tracks were all composed by Lowe. The sessions feature different lineups, with some overlap, and Lowe on alto saxophone in each setting.
Lowe's resume reads like a musical history in itself. He has recorded with Doc Cheatham
, David Murray
, Julius Hemphill
, Roswell Rudd
, Loren Schoenberg
, and many other jazz legends. The saxophonist began listening to John Coltrane
in his teens but Coltrane was leaning farther out while Lowe was committed to the general neighborhood of bebop. With time, Lowe not only came to appreciate Coltrane's explorations but to see the iconic saxophonist's embrace of the unconventional as essential and metamorphic to the genre.
Lowe's historian alter-ego frequently crosses over to his eclectic music, and the spectre of Coltrane hangs over the pieces on A Love Supine
, often in esoteric ways that are not at all obvious but are uniquely Lowe. His James Lamb-inspired ragtime "Blood of the Lamb/Opening Theme: Blue Dirge" celebrates the largely unsung contemporary of Scott Joplin and James Scott. Along with "Tiger Rage" the two pieces play like idiosyncrasies of a Bourbon Street parade.
"Holy Roller Shout" intriguingly mingles swing with more complex rhythms, book-ending a brief Pentecostal fire in appropriately biblical terms. Roswell Rudd
first recorded with Lowe on Dark Was the Night -Cold Was the Ground
(Music & Arts, 1994). The late trombonist is more than a passing influence on Lowe's new music. "In the Midst/Roswell's Dream" pays tribute to long-time Count Basie
trombonist Dickey Wells, morphing into a Rudd paean without losing the Basie vibe. On "Enclosure" Lowe finds parallel worlds where Coltrane and Bud Powell
lived, played, and died unreasonably early. Both were uniquely influential in jazz and found spirituality and comfort respectively, in their composing and playing. Lowe indirectly seizes on the expressively descriptive styles as well as a frenetically searching approach.
Lowe has launched a number of projects far-reaching in scope but, with A Love Supine
, he captures a broad chronicle of American pre-jazz and jazz through the richness of his own sound. The musicianship, especially that of pianist Lewis Porter
, trombonist Brian Simontacchi
and guitarist Ray Suhy
, is top-shelf. Much like his written word projects Lowe displays sophistication, humor and defiance. A Love Supine
is highly recommended listening.
CD1: Blood of the Lamb/Opening Theme: Blue Dirge; Exit My Mind; Enclosure; Name Her; In the Midst/Roswell’s Dream; Play That Ladnier; In a Lonely Place. CD2: Tar Roof Blues; Vachel, Vachel; Tiger Rage; I Licked Bird’s Blood; Holy Roller Shout; March of the Vipers (the sequel); Monk and the Evangelist; Pee Russell Enters Into Heaven; Ellington’s; Postscript: Blues for Roswell.