Jazz CD Reviews

Billy Bang Quintet, Featuring Frank Lowe – Above & Beyond: An Evening in Grand Rapids – Justin-Time

Bang and Lowe collaborated for over a quarter-century, creating a powerful avantgarde duo expression

Published on May 11, 2007

Billy Bang Quintet, Featuring Frank Lowe – Above & Beyond: An Evening in Grand Rapids – Justin-Time
Billy Bang Quintet, Featuring Frank Lowe – Above & Beyond: An Evening in Grand Rapids – Justin-Time JUST 208-2, 1 hr. ****:

(Billy Bang, violin; Frank Lowe, tenor sax; Andrew Bemkey, piano; Todd Nicholson, bass; Tatsuya Nakatani, drums)

This is a recording of a live concert in Michigan in April of 2003, recorded on a laptop at 48K-24bit; saxist Lowe passed away later that year. Bang and Lowe collaborated for over a quarter-century, creating a powerful avantgarde duo expression not unlike that of Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry. Their shared vision was at a high level during this their final concert together, and four tunes were selected for this CD release. Bang is the leading violinist on the cutting edge of jazz expression, his hard-edged and swinging sound making him among the most adventurous on this instrument not usually thought of in a jazz light.

Frank Lowe’s style has changed over the years to make a more perfect counterpart to that of Bang’s.  He shows elements of Sonny Rollins and Albert Ayler, and even contributes one of the four tunes here – Nothing But Love – during which Bang sits it out. Both soloists occasionally manipulate extreme noisemaking sounds from their instruments, but in general the melodic character of the music is much more tonal than typical loft jazz improvisation. Their unique instrumental blend is shown to highest development in the syncopations and strong melodic theme of the closing At Play in the Fields of the Lord.  This is definitely not sit-back-and-relax type jazz!

TrackList: Silent Observation, Nothing But Love, Dark Silhouette, At Play in the Fields of the Lord

 - John Henry




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