Sunday, March 8, 2015

FRANK LOWE (Quintet) – The Flam (LP-1976)

Label: Black Saint – BSR 0005
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Italy / Released: 1976
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded at Generation Sound Studios in New York City on October 20/21, 1975.
Artwork – Ariel Soulè
Engineer – Tony May
Photography By – Giuseppe G. Pino
Producer – Giacomo Pellicciotti

A1 - Sun Voyage . . . . . . . . . . 7:35
         (by Joseph Bowie)
A2 - Flam . . . . . . . . . . 14:03
         (by Frank Lowe)
B1 - Be-Bo-Bo-Be . . . . . . . . . . 10:53
         (by Charles Shaw)
B2 - Third St. Stomp . . . . . . . . . . 10:21
         (by Lowe/Shaw/Bowie/Blake/Smith)
B3 - U.B.P.   . . . . . . . . . . 0:45
         (by Leo Smith)

Frank Lowe – tenor saxophone
Leo Smith – trumpet, flugelhorn, wood flute
Joseph Bowie – trombone
Alex Blake – bass, electric bass
Charles "Bobo" Shaw – drums

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.  (_by Scott Yanow)

_1   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.

_2   ... 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.
(_by nadav haber on May 9, 2002)

This LP Rip made my friend R.P. in his Studio of Radio Corona via Laser Turntable, a way to avoid pressure and scraping Stylus per vinyl record.  The result is perfect. Because of no contact, the laser sound quality is quite similar to the original sound in the master tape.

If you find it, buy this album!


  1. FRANK LOWE (Quintet) – The Flam (LP-1976)
    Vinyl Rip-FLAC+Cover


  2. Laser turntable, eh? I gotta check that out. Thanks PR and Vitko!

  3. The same audio information been engraved on the groove wall from the top through the bottom. Stylus reads audio information close to the bottom. The Laser reads audio information close to the top. Namely the Laser reads audio information which never been read by a Stylus, without any Contact and any Digitization.

  4. Another great post, Vitko. I just hope my tin ears can discern the dynamics of laser technology. Fascinating process and probably when the cost gets reasonable this may give us the best of both worlds; the SOUND of vinyl without flipping an album over every 18 minutes. Peace.

    1. Ha, peace brother,
      get a chance, so we had some fun with this cutting-edge technology. While we listened to sounded is very exciting.

  5. Thank you Thank you THANK you! And Joseph Bowie!

  6. Laser turntables were already available at the beginning of the 1990s. But the Californian company went bancrupt because of too high costs in development (about 20000000 $)
    Later a Japanese company ELP Corporation offered two models. The 'cheaper' one one could have for about 12.000 euro and the other model was about 17.500 euro.
    And such technology isn't perfect either. As LPs have different kinds of grooves and laser works with reflection one has - depending on the way of cutting the grooves - not all the music which has been cut into the vinyl!
    See also
    And the laser disc also helps to hear scratches, pops etc. better.
    So all in all I think it's a very worthwile technology but surely not perfect - how could it be? In the end it's only man-made.

    But all this doesn't affect the excellent quality of Frank Lowe's music!

    1. Lots of interesting information. Thanks for the write-up, onxidlib. In any case, at that price range, I'll politely bow out.

    2. I saw a video of the Japanese businessman who markets the laser turntable on Youtube, and it made me think I'd quite like one to go along with a conventional plattter, but if I had that much money I wouldn't spend it on one anyway!
      Looking forward to hearing the music and the rip, Vitko.

    3. Oh, it's too expensive and unprofitable. I also, even if would have the money, I would not buy a laser turntable. I had the opportunity to try a something new, honestly I was happy, I admit, but ...?
      And I must say, this device did not have problems reading any of albums which we put in it.

    4. A good idea to go and see your friend when you have a small number of albums that won't play properly on a regular turntable maybe?!
      I listened last night to a bit of the Dexter G and Freddie, and they both sound very dynamic and full....

  7. Thanks a lot Vitko.

  8. Thanks a lot Vitko. One future day laser turntable will be reasonably priced down

  9. Great slab of vinyl. Definitely interested in hearing how the laser treatment works. Thanks for the post.

  10. I've seen this album here and there for 30 years and more. I don't think I've ever come across any kind of 'review/description' of it before today! Got to give it a listen! Many thanks.


  11. Agradecido, excelente musica y excelente saxofonista.

  12. thanks, have you used a laser turntable on many other files?

    1. On nearly 80% of published vinyl editions. In this way, the old LP, right at the start, gains a better sound when transferring and has far less noise and other acoustic inconvenience that creates a gramophone needle by scraping through the grooves of the LP.

  13. that's why your rips are the best arounnd...keep
    it flowing!...
    BIG THX!...

  14. Thanks Vitko, great album! I love Frank Lowe!!