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Supa Lowry Bros.: Vol. 1

Mark Sabbatini By

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This is the album I searched all of New York City for.



OK, now that this jazz/hip/soul group has a review blurb to take out of context, a bit of elaboration: perusing endless bins at megastores like Virgin and Tower Records is great, but what I really hoped to find during a recent trip to NYC was obscure albums by struggling locals. This is a lot harder than it sounds if you know nothing about the city and therefore spend hours paying tolls all the way to Jersey when you were actually looking for Greenwich Village.



But finally, rushing to meet someone on my last day, I emerged from a subway and encountered this group setting up for an evening gig between Central Park and big glass buildings like the Time Warner Plaza. With no time to watch them play, I plunked down $10 for their debut Vol. 1 CD and signed their guestbook hoping they'd e-mail some information about them.



Given all that, I'd call my "street music souvenir" a decent acquisition, if not a mind-blowing one.



Supa Lowery Bros., a sextet led by twin brothers Chris and Wes, is a self-described "street bop" group that plays a decent modern rendition of '70s-style funk. Vol. 1, available soon at their new web site ( www.supalowerybros.com ), is definitely not a high-volume disc—the plain white CD-R label is hand-lettered with felt markers. But it's professionally recorded and holds its own against its Tower Records brethren, thanks to above-average contributions from alto saxophonist Tim Green and drummer Wes Lowery.



One of my most immediate impressions, in fact, was "Wow, that saxophonist has game," and, after a little web browsing, it's apparent why. Described by one article as a "sideman nonparallel," Green plays with more than twenty bands (he says he prefers the sideman role to leading) and his slightly old-school tone infuses considerable post bop intellect into the relatively simple funk compositions. Lowery keeps things interesting throughout by not getting stuck in any particular groove for long. His extended exchanges with Green and tenor saxophonist Lawrence Clark are unquestionably the highlight of this album, especially when they go beyond funk, as with their free jazz jam on "Father Time."



Otherwise this is a horn-heavy collection delivering its compositions at a mostly middling pace on an even keel. If it doesn't completely motivate the get-up-and-dance mentality urged by the narrator on the opening track, it's at least lively enough to keep listeners from sitting still in their seats. But if studio cuts are merely a menu of what happens when players do their thing live, as Miles Davis claims, then Vol. 1 offers enough to make me wish I'd had time to stick around for their performance. Fans of funk will probably find it worthwhile to at least listen to the free selections at the group's web site, if nothing else.


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