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Lowe, Frank: The Flam [VINYL] (Black Saint Vinyl)

A major figure in the 1970s loft scene, tenor saxophonist Frank Lowe is heard on this 1975 studio album in the company of some of New York's finest free jazz players--Leo Smith on trumpet, Joseph Bowie on trombone, Alex Black on acoustic & electric bass, and Charles "Bobo" Shaw on drums--performing compositions from Lowe, Bowie, Smith & Shaw and one collective improvisation.

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product information:

UPC: 8056099004315

Label: Black Saint Vinyl
Catalog ID: BSR 005LP
Squidco Product Code: 29532

Format: LP
Condition: New
Released: 2020
Country: France
Packaging: LP
Recorded at Generation Sound Studios, in New York, New York, October 20th and 21st, 1975, by Tony May. Originally issue on vinyl LP in 1976 on the Black Saint label as catalog code BSR 0005.


Frank Lowe-tenor saxophone

Wadada Leo Smith-trumpet, flugelhorn, wood flute

Joseph Bowie-trombone

Alex Blake-bass, electric bass

Charles 'Bobo' Shaw-drums

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Artist Biographies:

"Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith: trumpeter and multi-instrumentalist, composer and improviser has been active in creative contemporary music for over forty years. His systemic music language Ankhrasmation is significant in his development as an artist and educator.

Born in Leland, Mississippi, Smith's early musical life began in the high school concert and marching bands. At the age of thirteen, he became involved with the Delta Blues and Improvisation music traditions. He received his formal musical education with his stepfather Alex Wallace, the U.S. Military band program (1963), Sherwood School of Music (1967-69), and Wesleyan University (1975-76). Mr. Smith has studied a variety of music cultures: African, Japanese, Indonesian, European and American.

He has taught at the University of New Haven (1975-'76), the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, NY (1975-'78), and Bard College (1987-'93). He is currently a faculty member at The Herb Alpert School of Music at California Institute of the Arts. He is the director of the African-American Improvisational Music program, and is a member of ASCAP, Chamber Music America, and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.

Mr. Smith's awards and commissions include: MAP Fund Award for "Ten Freedom Summers" (2011), Chamber Music America New Works Grant (2010), NEA Recording Grant (2010), Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2009-2010), Other Minds residency and "Taif", a string quartet commission (2008), Fellow of the Jurassic Foundation (2008), FONT(Festival of New Trumpet) Award of Recognition (2008), Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Award (2005), Islamic World Arts Initiative of Arts International (2004), Fellow of the Civitela Foundation (2003), Fellow at the Atlantic Center for the Arts (2001), "Third Culture Copenhagen" in Denmark-presented a paper on Ankhrasmation (1996), Meet the Composer/Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Commissioning Program (1996), Asian Cultural Council Grantee to Japan (June-August 1993), Meet the Composer/Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Commissioning Program (1990), New York Foundation on the Arts Fellowship in Music (1990), Numerous Meet the Composer Grants (since 1977), and National Endowment for the Arts Music Grants (1972, 1974, 1981).

Mr. Smith's music philosophy Notes (8 Pieces) Source a New. World Music: Creative Music has been published by Kiom Press (1973), translated and published in Japan by Zen-On Music Company Ltd. (1976). In 1981 Notes was translated into Italian and published by Nistri-Litschi Editori.

He was invited to a conference of artists, scientists and philosophers "Third Culture Copenhagen" in Denmark 1996, and presented a paper on his Ankhrasmation music theory and notational system for creative musicians. His interview was recorded for Denmark T.V., broadcasted September 1996.

Some of the artists Mr. Smith has performed with are : Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, Leroy Jenkins, Roscoe Mitchell, Lester Bowie, Richard Teitelbaum, Joseph Jarman, George Lewis, Cecil Taylor, Andrew Cyrill, Oliver Lake, Anthony Davis, Carla Bley, David Murray, Don Cherry, Jeanne Lee, Milton Campbell, Henry Brant, Richard Davis, Tadao Sawai, Ed Blackwell, Sabu Toyozumi, Peter Kowald, Kazuko Shiraishi, Han Bennink, Misja Mengelberg, Marion Brown, Kazutoki Umezu, Kosei Yamamoto, Charlie Haden, Kang Tae Hwan, Kim Dae Hwan, Tom Buckner, Malachi Favors Magoustous and Jack Dejohnette among many others.

Mr. Smith currently has three ensembles: Golden Quartet, Silver Orchestra, and Organic. His compositions have also been performed by other contemporary music ensembles: AACM-Orchestra, Kronos Quartet, Da Capo Chamber Player, New Century Players, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Contemporary Chamber Players (University of Chicago), S.E.M. Ensemble, Southwest Chamber Music, Del Sol String Quartet, New York New Music Ensemble, ne(x)tworks, and California E.A.R. Unit.

Mr. Smith's music for multi-ensembles has been performed since 1969. "Tabligh" for double-ensemble was performed by Golden Quartet and Classical Persian ensemble at Merkin Concert Hall (2006) and by Golden Quartet and Suleyman Erguner's Classical Turkish ensemble at Akbank Music Festival in Istanbul (2007). His largest work "Odwira" for 12 multi-ensembles (52 instrumentalists) was performed at California Institute of the Arts (March 1995). His Noh piece "Heart Reflections" was performed in Merkin Concert Hall, NY (November 1996)."

-Wadada Leo Smith Website (

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"Charles "Bobo" Shaw (b. September 5, 1947, Pope, Mississippi) is an American free jazz drummer, known as a prominent member of the Human Arts Ensemble and Black Artists Group.

Charles "Bobo" Shaw joined the American Woodsman Drummer bugle corp in 1953 and also played with the Tom Powel Post American Legion #77. Shaw also learned trombone and bass growing up, and studied drums under Joe Charles and Elijah Shaw. "Bobo" also studied with Rich O'Donnel and Bernnie Snyder of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. He also was a founding member of the Black Artists Group, a St. Louis, Missouri ensemble, in the 1960s; during that decade he also played with Lester Bowie, Frank Lowe, Hamiett Bluiett, John Mixon, and Oliver Lake. He moved to Europe later in the 1960s and played in Paris with Anthony Braxton, Steve Lacy, Frank Wright, Alan Silva, Michel Portal, Cecil Taylor, Richard Martin, and Frank Lowe.

After returning to St. Louis, he played with Lake again in 1971 and then in the 1970s led the Human Arts Ensemble, playing with Lester Bowie, Joseph Bowie, Julius Hemphill, David Murray and Lake again. He played with Billy Bang in the 1980s, and experimented with incorporating new wave and funk music into his improvisational Jam Sessions at venues in New York City."

-Wikipedia (

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track listing:


1. Sun Voyage 7:35

2. Flam 14:03


1. Be-Bo-Bo-Be 10:53

2. Third St. Stomp 10:21

3. U.B.P. 0:45
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Black Saint Vinyl present a reissue of Frank Lowe's The Flam, originally released in 1975. Frank Lowe, one of the most powerful tenor sax voices in the post-free jazz era and one of the main figures in the mid-70s NY jazz loft scene. The Flam recorded and released on Black Saint in 1975 stands as one of Lowe's best albums ever. This is highly Intense music with deep meaning and timeless message performed by an amazing collective."-Black Saint

"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."-Nadav Haber on May 9, 2002

Related Categories of Interest:

Vinyl Recordings
Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Quintet Recordings
Smith, Leo
Jazz Reissues

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