Tenor saxophonist Frank Lowe died from complications of lung cancer last Friday, September 19, in St. Clare’s hospital in New York City. He was 60.
Inspired by John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, Lowe is often cited for his free-jazz recordings, including his first as a leader, 1973’s Black Beings (ESP). But he also included plenty of swing and blues in his work, owing as much to his desire to bring “humor and romance” to his music as to his upbringing in Memphis. It was there that Lowe and his friends, including fellow saxophonists Charles Lloyd and Hank Crawford, learned about music from Packy Axton, one of the owners of Stax Records and a saxophonist himself.
Lowe worked with many people in the New York City improv scene, spending much of his time playing with Billy Bang, Phillip Wilson and Butch Morris, but it was his Saxemble that gained the most notice in the press. The group featured six sax players, including James Carter and Michael Marcus, and released its well-received 1995 self-titled album on Quincy Jones’ Qwest label. Lowe’s final recording was 2002’s Lowe-Down & Blue (CIMP).
Frank Lowe is survived by his sons Yaphet, of Manhattan, and Frank Lowe III of Oakland, California.Originally Published