Frank Lowe: Sun Voyage
Frank Lowe (tenor sax)
The Flam (Black Saint 120005-2)
Composed by Joseph Bowie.
Recorded: New York, October 20 or 21, 1975
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
Tenor saxophonist Frank Lowe is sometimes stereotyped as an Albert Ayler-influenced energy player. Yet in addition to Lowe's penchant for extreme expressionism, he possessed the ability to play with great melodic coherence. He'd often evidence both qualities in the course of a single performance, as he does here, effectively structuring his solo by alternating lithe freebop lines and screaming multiphonics. His front line partners are just as fresh in their approaches. Trumpeter Leo Smith is a more extroverted presence than one might expect. While he engages in the sort of timbral manipulations that are his stock-in-trade, he also plays hard and fast, spitting-out phrases with terse aggression. Trombonist Joseph Bowie exploits his horn's pliable nature, as well, squeezing, bellowing, and buzzing his way through his spots. Bassist Alex Blake swings in a pretty straight-forward manner through much of the tune, holding the groove while drummer Charles "Bobo" Shaw ingeniously accents and caterwauls. This is the type of detailed and original performance that, in the '70s, raised the hopes of jazz fans—and musicians—in the mood for something new. Inspired stuff that wears its age very well.
Reviewer: Chris Kelsey