Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Frank Lowe - The Loweski (ESP, 2012)

Frank Lowe was a tenor saxophonist who was influenced by the free jazz pioneers of the 1960’s like Albert Ayler and Pharoah Sanders. Moving to New York, he fell in with the nascent Loft Scene, and recorded a duet album with drummer Rashied Ali. Hooking up with the seminal avant-garde record label ESP, he recorded his first solo album Black Beings in 1973 as well as this previously unreleased set. On this five part suite, Lowe is accompanied by Joseph Jarman on soprano and alto saxophones, Raymond Lee Cheng on violin, William Parker on bass and Rashid Sinan on drums. Jarman opens the album with an unaccompanied solo performance where low honks play off against silence and swirls of saxophone and piercing squeals. The full band joins in on part two with howling saxophones at the center aided by circling, sawing violin. Coarse, jarring free jazz saxophones make for a harrowing improvisation, developing into a lengthy lung-shredding performance building into overblown gales sounding fierce to the point of desperation. Part three is a feature for Cheng, dubbed “The Wizard,” he deploys shards of electric violin like broken glass reflected in the sunlight and accompanied by fast bass and drums. The saxophones re-enter on Part Four spitting fire over the full band with cymbal crashes and prodding bass. The horns join and circle in midair leading into the finale where the twin saxes joust and parry, spiraling like aircraft over strong accompaniment. The music rolls to an uneasy end with droning bass and nervous and skittish percussion. This is a well done historical release, with interesting music presented well. The sound quality is pretty good and the liner notes offer excellent contextual information and photographs. The Loweski -

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