Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Low Down on Frank Lowe

Frank Lowe didn’t like the studio system much and so didn’t leave behind the kind of legacy that he deserved.  He was an avant garde jazzman to his core but, as is often the case, there were deep streaks of tradition in his locks.  I have been listening today to a new acquisition: Decision in Paradise (1985).  All the comments on the recording I have read describe it as “conservative”.  It is in fact a genuine exploration of the bop sentiment.  In many ways, this is my favorite kind of jazz recording: an avant garde revolutionary trying out the old whiskey. 
I chose the album mostly for the band.  Don Cherry on trumpet suggests wild, but the suggestion goes wide of the mark.  Grachan Moncur III on trombone also misleads.  But I am a big fan of Moncur.  Geri Allen on piano, well, what’s not to like?  Charnette Moffett plays bass and Charles Moffett beats the skins. 
I am playing the title cut and ‘You Dig!’  This is one album that you will dig.  It’s available from Amazon for about $5.  Get it and dig it. 
I am also playing a cut from The Flam (1976), a more characteristic Lowe recording, I suspect, and a flamboyant avant garde document.  Joseph Bowie plays a spitting trumpet, Leo Smith draws from a quiver of horns, Alex Blake is on bass and Charles Bobo Shaw is on drums.  Lowe’s tenor is squelching and screechy, in a Charles Gaye sort of way.  Let it run.