In February 2002, saxophonist Frank Lowe cut the session that would become Lowe-down & Blue (CIMP); eight days later he underwent lung surgery. That would be a rough scene for any musician, let alone the durable Lowe. This session has much going for it, not the least of which is the quartet Lowe put together: drummer Michael Carvin, with whom the saxophonist has been associated since the ’60s; CIMP’s super ad-hoc bassist Dominic Duval; and the grossly underdocumented and always-welcome guitarist Bern Nix. Lowe has also chosen a strong set of tunes-half his own originals balanced by a connoisseur’s choice of compositions, including Sonny Sharrock’s lyrical ballad “Who Does She Hope to Be?” and Pete LaRoca’s “Candu.” Still, it’s difficult to determine how much of Lowe’s shopworn tone and blunt phrasing (frequently punctuated by long silences and/or muted yelps) comes by design or health. Lowe certainly made the right call in adding Nix. The guitarist takes on the lion’s share of solo space with his usual understated grace and light touch.