Friday, March 1, 2019

Frank Lowe and Eugene Chadbourne - 1979 - Don't Punk Out

Frank Lowe and Eugene Chadbourne
Don't Punk Out

01. Composition For David Murray 1:47
02. If It Should Happen 4:05
03. Fright 4:23
04. At Reel's End 2:31
05. Bobo Did It 2:31
06. Ghosts 4:16
07. The Clam 0:54
08. St Thomas (Fire Down There) 1:29
09. Phantom To Tower (Parts 1 & 2) 4:22
10. You Were Right In The First Place 2:44
11. 45 1st Ave (Parts 1 & 2) 2:50
12. There's No Place Like Home 2:51
13. Doctor Too-Much 2:45
14. Don't Punk Out (Parts 1 & 2) 3:04

Guitar [6-string, 12-string] – Eugene Chadbourne
Tenor Saxophone – Frank Lowe

Stereo recording, New York City, October 13, 1977
Most pieces are complete as performed, no overdubbing has been used.

Don't Punk Out was first released on LP by Emanem in 1979. The album then consisted of 16 tracks recorded by Frank Lowe (tenor saxophone) and Eugene Chadbourne (electric and acoustic guitar) on October 13, 1977. For the CD reissue, Chadbourne dug up three Lowe pieces he recorded on guitar in 1979, while Lowe went back into the studio in April 2000 to record three fresh solo tracks (one composition and tunes by Oliver Nelson and Don Cherry). Both musicians agreed on aiming at short pieces for this session. Each one brought a handful of compositions, the title track was written in collaboration, and two free improvs were also recorded, along with Albert Ayler's "Ghosts" and a Sonny Rollins favorite "Fire Down There." True to both musicians, most of the music is manic, punchy, with an intensity heighten by the shortness of the takes. Chadbourne's "The Clam" is a complete theme-solos-recap jazz tune in 55 seconds. But surprisingly, this duo could also quiet down, as exemplified by "Fright" and the very nice "You Were Right in the First Place." As usual with Chadbourne, there is a strong feeling of controlled sloppiness, although fans will find him more tidy than usual. Not a stellar recording, Don't Punk Out remains an enjoyable album and a good testimony of what these two could do together. The three bonus Lowe solos put the cherry on top of the sundae.

Excerpts from sleeve notes:
In 1975, I received an unsolicited and unexpected cutting taken from the Calgary Herald. It was a review of the Emanem record by the duo of Anthony Braxton and Derek Bailey written by the paper's staff writer, one Eugene Chadbourne. A correspondence developed, and a second Calgary Herald cutting arrived featuring reviews of solo records by Bailey, Evan Parker and Paul Rutherford. The next thing to arrive was a solo guitar record revealing that Chadbourne was also an excellent musician as well as a superior critic.

Subsequent mail revealed that he was leaving Calgary (where he had been staying to avoid participating in the wanton destruction of Vietnam) and moving to New York City (which was near where I was living at the time). On arrival he teamed up with violinist Polly Bradford and the then unknown John Zorn, and New York City had its first group somewhat influenced by the methods and techniques of the London improvisers.

However, Chadbourne also began working with some of the already established Free Jazz musicians, most notably Frank Lowe and Charles Tyler. By that time, Lowe had become one of the fixtures and leading lights of the New York City Free Jazz scene. After a decade of playing in bands led by Rashied Ali, Don Cherry, Alice Coltrane, Milford Graves, Sunny Murray, Sun Ra and others, he was well on the way to his uniquely individual path, and was leading some remarkable groups both on stage and on record.

In 1977, Emanem was in one of its inactive periods caused by lack of freedom(money). We were investigating some hair-brain tax loss scheme to put out a series of records. All I remember about this was that it involved several long conversations with a lawyer (which we didn't pay for, I hasten to add). Fortunately (with hindsight), nothing came of this, except for one recording session.

When I suggested to Lowe and Chadbourne that they might do a duo for the projected series, they jumped at the idea, and arranged a date when they would both be in the city. (The results didn't come out until two years later, when Emanem managed one of its sporadic gasps of activity.) The session took place in Chadbourne's brother's apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, with the musicians playing in one room and me operating my tape recorder in another.

The musicians came to the session fully prepared and rehearsed. They had decided to make the music as different as possible from the Braxton/Bailey record with its similar instrumentation. They thus decided to go for numerous short pieces, most of which used written material. Lowe also wanted to pay a tribute to the two saxophonists who had most influenced him by performing Ghosts by Albert Ayler, and Fire Down There - the traditional tune from St Thomas (in the Virgin Islands) that Sonny Rollins often used.

This session produced just enough material for an LP. To take the project up to CD length, Chadbourne dug up a 1979 solo tape, while Lowe opted to record some new solos. In a recent email, Chadbourne said the following about his additions (which Lowe titled Inner Extremities Suite for this CD release):

"The history of this tape is that it was made at a drummer friend of mine's loft on the way back from a rehearsal with Frank Lowe. During this rehearsal, the bridge of my guitar snapped and so when we were recording at my friend's I got the guitar to play by shoving a paintbrush under the strings. I was experimenting with using this as a kind of 'whammy bar', but it ends up sounding more like a wah wah pedal. Really weird, but it is an acoustic and not electric effect. I played some new tunes Lowe had just showed me. I never got through the final tune because the guitar went so way out of intonation.

Of course at the time I never thought about releasing these tapes, this was purely horsing around... BUT listening to this now years after the fact, I actually think they would be nice in combination with DON'T PUNK OUT... so much of my stuff from this period is kind of manic but this is pretty relaxed sounding, most likely because of the circumstances."

For the original LP release of DON'T PUNK OUT, I decided to choose the most inappropriate picture I could find. I appear to have succeeded, since neither of the musicians wanted it used again. So the CD cover is very different from the LP, except that I have left a trace of the offending illustration in order to try to appease any original cover freaks.

Jerome Cooper, Kalaparusha, Frank Lowe - 1978 - Positions 3 6 9

Jerome Cooper, Kalaparusha, Frank Lowe
Positions 3 6 9

01. Duet - two tenors
02. Trio
03. Trio
04. Solo - F. Lowe
05. Trio
06. Solo - Kalaparusha
07. Duet - F. Lowe - J. Cooper
08. Solo - J. Cooper
09. Solo - J. Cooper
10. Trio

Drums, Percussion [Gong Bell], Saw, Flute [Wooden], Horn [Bike Horn] – Jerome Cooper
Tenor Saxophone [Tenor Sax], Clarinet, Flute [Wooden], Bells [School Bell] – Kalaparusha M. McIntyre
Tenor Saxophone [Tenor Sax], Percussion [Indian Bells, Whistle] – Frank Lowe

Recorded live in concert at Environ, New York City, April 25, 1977. Gatefold cover.

Frank Lowe - 1977 - The Other Side

Frank Lowe
The Other Side

01. The Other Side (7:23)
02. Zap (6:20)
03. Up (5:15)
04. Pretty (5:38)
05. Carmen (7:32)
06. Fresh (6:02)

Frank Lowe - Tenor Saxophone
Lawrence "Butch" Morris - Cornet
Didier Levallet - Double Bass
George Brown - Drums

Recorded 19th December, 1976 at Palm Studio, Paris

This LP is very much like other Frank Lowe albums from the 70's such as "Fresh" and "The Flam" released on Arista/Freedom and Black Lion. The album is another rare gem released on the short-lived Palm French record label with producer Jef Gilson at the helm. It contains a unique set of free jazz compositions. "Fresh", in particular became a stable piece played often during this period. Many of the band members assembled in Lowe’s groups were musicians well known across the loft-jazz movement. For any free jazz/avant-garde devotee this is a must have and an important item from Frank Lowe's discography. Lawrence "Butch" Morris adds a very spirited partnership to Frank's wild outpourings. It is album that can actually grow on you with successive listens. Enjoy this marvellous opportunity to search deeper into the free jazz idiom.

Frank Lowe - 1977 - Doctor Too-Much

Frank Lowe
Doctor Too-Much

01. Trombone (Dedicated To George Lewis & Joseph Bowie) 4:30
02. Crush 7:45
03. Parts 7:30
04. Doctor Too-Much 7:55
05. Structuralism 3:35
06. Broadway Rhumba 5:30
07. Future Memories 4:45

Bass – Fred Williams
Drums – Philip Wilson
Tenor Saxophone – Frank Lowe
Trumpet – Olu Dara, Leo Smith

Recorded: May 21, 1977

Frank Lowe really was on a Roll, at this point... every release seemingly more potent than the last , this one has a terrific line up.. .. and Lowe had worked frequently with all of them,in various combos
 .. some years ago i believe we posted a contemporaneous show recorded from the Audience at Angouleme FR. without Wadada.Leo Smith.. i'll try to reupload that soon..

As with most Recordings on Kharma , which was run on a shoe string budget, the sound is a little one dimensional, whatever its sonic shortcomings Musically this is superb!
As i may have mentioned a few thousand times ... for me Lowe was the greatest!.. and he is certainly Sorely missed.
his late work has equal gravitas , go to the cadence website and check the audio samples of 'Vision Blue', Bodies and Soul'...' Legends streets one and two'

Frank Lowe Quartet - 1977 - Tricks Of The Trade

Frank Lowe Quartet 
Tricks Of The Trade

01. Navarro's Tomorrow 10:16
02. Anytime 6:05
03. Clear 5:02
04. A Ballad 5:26
05. Unsatisfied Blues 5:22
06. And Then 2:30

Bass – Didier Levallet
Cornet – Lawrence "Butch" Morris
Drums – George Brown
Tenor Saxophone – Frank Lowe

Enregistré en public à Rouen Salle Sainte-Croix des Pelletiers le mercredi 8 décembre 1976.

Frank Lowe - 1976 - The Flam

Frank Lowe
The Flam

01. Sun Voyage 7:35
02. Flam 14:03
03. Be-Bo-Bo-Be 10:53
04. Third St. Stomp 10:21
05. U.B.P. 0:45

Double Bass, Electric Bass – Alex Blake
Drums – Charles Bobo Shaw
Tenor Saxophone – Frank Lowe
Trombone – Joseph Bowie
Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Flute [Woodflute] – Leo Smith

Recorded at Generation Sound Studios, New York, October 20-21, 1975.

A truly unclassifiable bit of madness from the great tenor player Frank Lowe, The Flam finds him breaking free from the hard-blowing freakout fests of the New York free jazz scene and moving on to something entirely different. At the time of The Flam’s recording, Lowe was fresh from groundbreaking sideman work on Don Cherry’s equally adventurous Brown Rice, and the heady experimentalism of those sessions seems to have at least partially informed Lowe’s work here. On the whole, though, The Flam is a far more intimidating, less welcoming work than Cherry’s. Where Brown Rice sometimes traded in abstract spiritualism, The Flam, with its jagged textures and harsh dissonance, possessed a distinct air of menace. Take “Third Street Stomp,” a rigorous workout led by Alex Blake's frantic electric bass work; it anticipates the punk-informed aggression of the No Wave scene. A truly strange and wonderful piece of work, The Flam marks the point in Lowe’s career where he finally began to emerge from the shadow of Coltrane’s influence to forge his own inimitable aesthetic.

What I hear in Lowe's harsh/gentle saxophone playing is a constant search for the possibilities of expression - from the harshest coarse growls to soft, quiet tones. He uses these extreme modes of expression in a way I have not heard before - a soft descending phrase followed by a coarse scream which is followed by other sounds, each different and fresh. In this he is different than musicians such as Coltrane, Ayler, or Charles Gayle - who tend to build their sound gradually, achieving the maximum effect before changing direction.
The other musicians add their fair share of creative moments to the vinyl - Joseph Bowie makes the trombone sound a million ways, and Alex Blake plays everything from abstract to finger slapped funk. Leo Smith is always interesting and Charles Bobo Shaw plays what to me is perfect and ego-less support for the group.
After about 3-4 times I listened to the LP - it became one of my favorites. This is "no frills" music, honest and daring. I believe it is a music that is built on the foundations layed out by Thelonious Monk - the rhythmic diversity, the sudden cuts - although it may not have been what the musicians had in mind. The influence of the AACM movement is evident too.
But it is mostly Frank Lowe, who, based on the music here, deserves to be mentioned as a member of the top crop of creative jazzmen who have entered the scene in the 60's - Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders, Sam Rivers, Anthony Braxton etc...
Like any other great creative jazz - this music asks you to make the initial effort - you must come to it in order to enjoy its benefits. It does not make any concessions or compromises just to please anyone. Therefore I recommend the music to anyone who is willing to make the initial effort.

1. "Flam" alone makes this worth seeking out. It's an ideal showcase for the full quintet - the extended bass solo from Alex Blake is sick - and one hell of an adventurous piece compositionally with Frank Lowe never being content to stick to a single groove and instead offering Blake and drummer Charles Shaw ample opportunity to shift their riffing while Lowe, Wadada Leo Smith and Joseph Bowie offer up their best work on this platter. One of those pieces that just leaves you in awe.

2. The fully improvised "Third St. Stomp" is almost as good but oddly the lack of a firm hand hurts it ever so slightly. The thought that went into "Flam"'s construction is missing basically, though it's a treat to hear what these guys can do without any imposed boundaries as well.

3. That's not to say that the other tracks here aren't worth discussing though, just that they're operating at a distinctly lower level in my opinion. They've all got plenty to recommend, like the Lowe/Bowie/Smith three way duel during "Be-Bo-Bo-Be," but they're not as rewarding on the whole.

4. Above all I should thank this album for introducing me to Alex Blake. He's the highlight of most tracks here, nimbly walking through the compositions like he was born to do this and do it well. Definitely looking forward to finding more of his work.

5. It's also worth praising the production here, which sounds crisp without losing the feel of it being an in-the-room recording. There's space between the players, and that's the sort of thing I appreciate.

On this free jazz date the powerful tenor Frank Lowe teams up with trumpeter Leo Smith, trombonist Joseph Bowie, bassist Alex Blake and drummer Charles Bobo Shaw for five group originals including the collaboration "Third St. Stomp." The very explorative and rather emotional music holds one's interest throughout. These often heated performances are better heard than described.

A wonderful band and a very fine record which was unavailable for far too long. A good place to start if you haven't encountered Lowe before.