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Everything posted by AllenLowe

  1. Whither Allen Lowe?

    thanks, just saw it this morning.
  2. Whither Allen Lowe?

    Thanks… I just found out about this myself and am somewhat in a state of shock
  3. Whither Allen Lowe?

    Ken is doing pretty well, as a matter fact we’re going to record together in April. I’m not sure what the long-term thing is but he’s working hard and fighting.
  4. Whither Allen Lowe?

    thank you everyone. Back in April I really didn't think I would make it through the year, and your support is gratifying,
  5. Whither Allen Lowe?

    reporting in....much improved, can see well enough to drive. I still look extremely weird, and my final surgery to reconstruct my face is not happening until next July or August. I am uncomfortable but not in a lot of pain. Finally sleeping after a long period of constantly waking up. I am getting active; playing again, doing a recording session in April with Ken Peplowski (who himself has been quite sick), and another in March. Playing April 6 at Smalls and April 8 at Firehouse 12. May need to be accompanied by a nurse, but I have my pocket defibrillator and my medical marijuana and though my neuropathy makes me a bit unsteady walking, I am fine sitting and as long as I walk to the left (since I drift right) everything should be OK.
  6. Name Three People...

    on my wedding day, Sept. 12 1982, Dick Katz played piano. At the end of the wedding he was picked up to go to another gig by....Nobby Totah. That's a name you don't forget.
  7. Barry Harris RIP

    this was a shocker, old as he was. I talked to him in September and he was doing well, but 91 is 91.... Barry was my first musician friend when I lived in NYC in the '70s. Just a great man, humanitarian, musician, et al.
  8. Whither Allen Lowe?

    Thank you it’s a very tempting offer, but at this point I am in a great deal of pain and can barely see. Give me a few months.
  9. Whither Allen Lowe?

    thanks all, out of surgery 10 days. in some pain but the graft is holding though as i pointed out elsewhere i look like an aardvark. From what the doctors told me this thing would have killed me in another year or two, left unfixed. There will be one or more reconstructive operations in the next year (I suffer from major radiation poisoning; the treatment killed the cancer but caused other problems). but as long as I am here let me mention that I have a double cd coming out in November on ESP called Ascension Into the Maelstrom. Mention my disease and get 10 percent off.
  10. Whither Allen Lowe?

    well, from what I know, I will be out of commission for about 3 months. There will be a skin graft, sinus work, and tissue embedded between my sinuses and my brain; also some muscle transplant to rebuilt my very sunken forehead.
  11. Whither Allen Lowe?

    Surgery Tuesday in Boston. I remain terrified but determined.
  12. thanks, I've been a bit scarce because of some health issues, but am recovering.
  13. Whither Allen Lowe?

    hi everybody, sorry I missed this earlier. Much appreciated. It's been a nightmare of a year, and for about the first half I had to struggle just to retain my sanity and figure out if it was worth going on (thanks to my wife I stayed in some control). Basically, I didn't sleep from January - July except in short bites of 15, 30, 45 minutes, and the nightly struggle almost pushed me over the edge. Things started getting better in July and I can now make 2 or 3 hours of sleep at a time. I had a very rare case of sinus cancer, and the surgery to remove the tumor plus the chemo and radiation just beat the hell out of me. Basically I am now suffering from radiation poisoning, my face is a mess, but we found a plastic surgeon in Boston who is supposed to operate the end of this month and do facial reconstruction. I still have trouble breathing, but it is much better. After this surgery I should be more functional, with 2-3 more surgeries in the next 2-3 years. But I am playing and composing again. And I have had about 5 scans which show the cancer is gone. Been thrown a bit to find out that Ken Peplowski, the nicest guy on earth, has multiple myeloma, and that my bass player, Kevin Ray, had a massive heart attack last month; not to mention that one of my closest friends has Parkinson's. Still, we go on. Hopefully I will be recording again by next Spring; ESP has a 2 CD set of mine coming out in November that I am very proud of. So things look semi-hopeful. Love to everyone.
  14. Porgy and Bess, So Many Jazz Adaptations

    Sorry, Chuck D. was full of shi# about Elvis, who was anything but a racist.
  15. I ran into Bolton playing on the street in San Francisco's Chinatown, maybe 1985. He was clearly a mess, but a very nice guy.
  16. I often have things I want to post but have no place to post them, and end up annoying people by putting them in threads that have nothing to do with my post. So I am starting a free-form digression thread, open to anything as long as it is not insulting or hurtful (excluding my own posts, of course) - and no naked pictures or anything related to barnyard animals (save that for the "offering and looking for" department)
  17. Imaginary Mosaics

    you mean the complete stolen-by-night Archives?
  18. I have oblique connections to both these guys. I studied keyboard harmony with Hugh back in the late '70s; Wyands I always admired and I first booked him into the West End Cafe around the same time. Nobody was calling him so I just looked him up in the book. Nice guy, dry sense of humor. Hugh was a unique and blunt personality, and boy could he play the shit out of the piano.
  19. ‘Turn Me Loose, White Man’ Review: How to Listen to American Music An idiosyncratic project peers into the creative ferment before genres like jazz, blues and country fully diverged. By Larry Blumenfeld April 2, 2021 11:54 am ET As a saxophonist, composer and bandleader, Allen Lowe has recorded albums of impressive scope and ambition with musicians who span generations and communities. The unruly beauty of his music is grounded in tradition yet also consistently blurs styles and eras. His approach is well stated in an introduction to his two-volume, self-published book “ ‘Turn Me Loose, White Man,’ or: Appropriating Culture: How to Listen to American Music, 1900-1960”: “Where does one start with American music, and where does one end? There are some obvious musical signposts . . . that serve well as beginnings,” he writes. “There are less clear endings, places that mark the discontinuation of styles, sound, and movements. Sometimes certain things seem to disappear, only to reappear as something else or something that seems like something else.” And, more than 200 pages later: “The sequence of musical events which drives studies like this are often lessons in why music is not history and history is not music.” ‘Turn Me Loose, White Man’ By Allen Lowe Constant Sorrow, two volumes, 768 pages, $29.95 each Two-book, 30-CD set, $175 Nevertheless, Mr. Lowe stays devoted to music history. Among his four previous books, “That Devilin’ Tune: A Jazz History, 1900-1950” formed an essential counterpoint (or counterpunch) to, say, Ken Burns’s PBS series “Jazz.” Mr. Lowe likes subtitles upon subtitles. His secondary one here—“How to Listen to American Music”—indicates not another pop-culture guidebook but rather a consideration of American music’s glorious tangle for listeners of both aural and moral sensitivity. Is “Turn Me Loose, White Man” his treatise on 60 years of American music, plus a companion 30-CD boxed set? Or is it a lovingly curated recording project with the longest set of liner notes in history? Though these two volumes stand on their own, for Mr. Lowe the music and the analysis form a dialogue, an essential call and response, a set of philosophical arguments much like the commentary surrounding religious texts, “honed by a mixed sense of aesthetic worship and social consciousness” that, thankfully, never grows pious. Mr. Lowe’s website biography asks “Who is Allen Lowe, and why is he doing all these projects and why have you never heard of him?” Yet he’s hardly unknown. Francis Davis devoted a chapter to him in his 1996 book “Bebop and Nothingness: Jazz and Pop at the End of the Century.” There, Mr. Lowe lamented not “finding a place” as a jazz musician, not conforming as either “a neoconservative like Wynton Marsalis or a postmodernist like John Zorn.” The truth is more complex. Mr. Lowe, who has lectured and performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center, of which Mr. Marsalis is managing and artistic director, knows he is both outsider and not. That fluidity, that refusal to accept false dichotomies, is one great strength of his work as a cultural historian. All of which brings us to Mr. Lowe’s most potent subtitle, “Appropriating Culture.” “The making of American music is a febrile and contentious racial battleground,” writes cultural critic Greg Tate in another introduction. Mr. Lowe, he notes, digs into historical recordings that speak to musical vernaculars before those genres hardened into the “cages of formalized and racialized convention” now known as gospel, blues, jazz and country. Into this battleground Mr. Lowe marches. His opening pages reveal the source of his book’s title: “a recording, from 1902, which fits very neatly into what I would call the immediate pre-history of country music, by the white singing duo Cantrell and Williams, of a song called Mississippi River Song Tapioca, in which an obviously-white singer,” portraying a black character working on the Mississippi River, “yells out ‘turn me loose, there, white man.’ ” For Mr. Lowe, this moment represents “transference of the desire by a white man for artistic freedom onto the ‘other,’ the black man, in the guise of demanding cultural/expressive liberation. ‘Set me free,’ the white singer seems to be demanding, ‘by making me as black as I am pretending to be.’ ” Mr. Lowe then considers pianist Ben Harney (1872-1938), a “major figure” whose compositions “established a commercial beachhead for ragtime” and who “presented as white” but was almost certainly not; he wonders how assumptions about Harney’s race framed interpretations of his music. Mr. Lowe also describes the reaction among collectors to the discovery of an 1894 recording of “Haul the Woodpile Down,” by a black musician named Charles Asbury, who died in obscurity in 1903: “He couldn’t be black, some insisted, because the way he sang was too formal, the delivery too ‘white’ ”—a “racist assumption about sound and inflection” that ignores Asbury’s exceptional banjo playing. Mr. Lowe hears American music as “essentially a timeline of African Americans liberating themselves in sound, creating an alternative history to that which has been imposed on them.” He wishes to explore “an aesthetic merger” of black and white idioms, a musical give-and-take “in which blackness is clearly and profoundly victorious” but which “whiteness” survives by its “need to dominate,” absorbing and transmuting in genuinely creative ways that inspire further black innovation. Some may take issue with Mr. Lowe’s “assumption that a great deal, if not all, of American music is rooted in forms that derive in some way from Minstrelsy.” Yet the case he mounts, without condescension or apology and with a great deal of musical evidence, makes sense. As does his idea that “the strangeness of early jazz” has to do with “the slow and gradual removal of the minstrel mask from both white and black performers,” often revealing “an expression of perplexed, racial ambivalence, a sense that fantasy has replaced reality for so long that we no longer can determine precisely which is which.” I agree with Mr. Lowe that the ascendance of the all-white Original Dixieland Jazz Band as the first jazz group to make bestselling, mass-marketed phonograph records was “a matter of white supremacy,” but disagree that the group was distinguished by “innate and consistent musicality.” I wince as he wanders into passages such as this: “Blacks stay, as usual, creatively just out of reach in terms of cultural originality and newness, one clear step ahead of their white followers, like runaway slaves.” Or when he rushes headlong into asserting that “African American arts are not, in their essence, political.” Yet the fascinating mass of music that Mr. Lowe gathers—and then discusses with ingenuity and force—persuades in both original and necessary ways. Mr. Lowe celebrates obscure figures that connect musical dots. Whether or not Harmonica Frank (1908-1984) is, as Mr. Lowe claims, “one of the most significant American musicians of the 20th century,” his music does exhibit “a surface lightness of being” and “a series of profoundly telling musical gestures” that, yes, “predicts both Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan.” Mr. Lowe also draws a convincing line—via, among other things, a “rollicking yet very conservative gallop . . . creating a sense of accelerating tempo, even while the time remains unchanged,” and “uneven trills with uncertain tonality”—from pianist Speckled Red (1892-1973) to Thelonious Monk. He writes with enlightening precision about famous musicians, too. Duke Ellington’s “Koko” is notable less for some monolithic aesthetic and more for “violating the norms of conventional expectation.” Jelly Roll Morton’s “Tiger Rag” evokes “a distant musical past through the surface of a porous musical present.” Fats Waller’s music sounds like the pianist is “looking at life from under a table, peeking out at the strange goings on.” Without making too much of it, there is poignancy and more to the fact that Mr. Lowe was battling throat cancer as he wrote about “the life of black creativity and its struggle against the death knell of white power.” This book carries an urgency that befits both his own personal and our larger American moment. He gets cantankerous, even downright nasty, in response to lazy assumptions or incorrect facts put forth by music critics. Yet there’s a sweetness too, an earnestness—what Greil Marcus, writing about Mr. Lowe, identifies as a “mission” to honor the relationship “between people long dead and those listening to them now in disbelief that they could ever die.” —Mr. Blumenfeld writes about jazz and Afro-Latin music for the Journal.
  20. boy, I go away for a few days and miss the whole seminar - we need S.I. Hayakawa. Better still - buy the book and CDs and then we'll talk.
  21. I should add that the passage he cites, much as I deeply appreciate that review, is not really cringe- or wince-worthy. I think he may have misunderstood.
  22. Let me check to make sure the book is in the queue - email me your address - thanks thanks, I was not aware. I think of all the ways it has been misused.......
  23. I have sold so many since the review, my wife and I are working day and night to fill orders. and why might that be?
  24. I just gotta add, re-Haig's supposed anti-semitism, that we were very close friends and that I am Jewish. I think we gotta understand that all this crazy stuff that Haig got in the middle of was due to his acute alcoholism. It's a vicious disease with a lot of Jekyl-and-Hyde characteristics. Bird's death messed up a lot of players who, in the words of Barry Harris, "didn't know what to do next." But Al was not a racist or an anti-semite that I saw in any way, shape, or form.
  25. Culture War, Young Lions & Trend Manufacturing

    as a would-be gigging musician, I think jazz is just lost these days - and I get this from much more successful musicians (who were working before the pandemic). Gigs didn't lead anywhere any more; this was a change from the old days when one good gig could put you on a trajectory. And the music is age-ist with a vengeance. I played Dizzy's in 2018 and sold the house out on a Wednesday night in February. People went nuts. Will they book me back? No, and they turned me down in a very insulting, yes, age-ist, way as well. To get into Dizzy's you now have to be young OR famous, and I am neither. The small venues are run by young kids who will only book other people their age. They treat musicians like shit, are non-responsive (and to much more famous people than myself). The music has little future for most of us without subsidy. And yet there are zillions of musicians and plenty of venues. But it's all like an escalator that's going sideways. As for the Young Lions and that era; look where we are now with this new, niche-jazz. Jazz has its lowest market share ever. I guess Wynton's attempts at resuscitation were unsuccessful. As for other considerations, it's a good thing I had a day job all those years. I still believe jazz is an art form, and that's what I try to do.