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Frank Lowe

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Biography

Avant-garde tenor saxophonist Frank Lowe evolved over the years from an unrestrained, free-blowing energy player into a versatile, multi-hued improviser who nonetheless remained underground for most of his career. Born in Memphis in 1943, Lowe began playing tenor at age 12, studied at the San Francisco Conservatory, and moved to New York in the mid-'60s at the height of the New Thing. He gigged with Sun Ra from 1966-1968, and recorded in the early '70s with Alice Coltrane, Noah Howard, and drummer Rashied Ali (the two made a duet album, Duo Exchange, in 1973). As a leader, Lowe debuted in 1973 with the classic ESP-label blowout Black Beings, which also featured Joseph Jarman; the follow-up Fresh appeared on Arista/Freedom. During this period, Lowe played with Don Cherry, appearing on landmark world-fusion efforts like Relativity Suite and Brown Rice. Soon after recording The Flam for Black Saint in 1975, Lowe moved to Paris for about a year, and would return to Europe frequently. Lowe's recordings began to grow more eclectic in the late '70s and early '80s: Don't Punk Out was a duo with guitarist Eugene Chadbourne; Lowe and Behold featured an 11-piece orchestra; and Skizoke was a surprisingly subtle, straight-ahead outing. Lowe also began a long association with violinist Billy Bang in the late '70s, frequently collaborating in the Jazz Doctors. After the early '80s, Lowe didn't record much for a while, returning on 1991's Inappropriate Choices with a four-reed ensemble dubbed the Saxemple. The group soon expanded to six reeds and was renamed SaxEmble for its eponymous 1995 debut album. Meanwhile, Lowe recorded some immensely rewarding albums for CIMP, including 1995's Bodies and Soul and 1997's Vision Blue; he also recorded with Joe McPhee in 1996. In 2000, Lowedelivered Short Takes, a series of duets with bassist Bernard Santacruz, for the French Bleu Regard label. Lowe struggled with cancer for several years, but still managed to record, appearing on Billy Bang's Vietnam: the Aftermath (2001) and Jane Cortez's Borders of Disorderly Time (2003), as well as another date as leader for CIMP, Lowe-Down & Blue (2003). The CIMP album would prove to be his last, Frank Lowe passed away quietly at his home in New York on September 19, 2003 at the age of 60.

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Born:

24 June 1943 in Memphis, TN

Genre
Years Active:

'60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Influencers

Contemporaries