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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
this just in:

JAZZ TIMES
09/11/11 • Albums • By Scott Albin

Blues and the Empirical Truth-- Allen Lowe [Music & Arts CD-1251]
Allen Lowe's Blues and the Empirical Truth is one of the most ambitious and fulfilling projects to come out of the jazz world in recent years, a dazzling array of 52 blues and blues-based tracks covering three CDs and about 223 minutes in total. All composed and arranged by Lowe, it took at least seven recording sessions--from 2009 to early 2011--to complete. The end result is compulsive and mesmerizing.

Blues and the Empirical Truth can be seen as a logical milestone in the eclectic, wide-ranging career of Lowe, whose prior recordings included music inspired by the likes of Louis Armstrong and Astor Piazzolla, among others. Lowe's 1994 release, Dark Was the Night--Cold Was the Ground was a direct precursor that like this new one featured trombonist extraordinaire Roswell Rudd. In addition, Lowe is the compiler and annotator of comprehensive anthologies such as the 9-CD American Pop: An Audio History--From Minstrel to Mojo: On Record 1893-1946; the 36-CD That Devilin' Tune: A Jazz History 1895-1950; and the ongoing Really the Blues? A Blues History 1893-1959, which will eventually span yet another 36 CDs!

How does Blues and the Empirical Truth compare to Oliver Nelson's 1961 Blues and the Abstract Truth? Lowe's presentation is more specific, while Nelson's was more generic. Blues and the Empirical Truth places the blues in various contexts, exploring its societal and cultural derivations and instigations, enhanced by what has sprung from Lowe's personal tastes, influences, and inspirations. There are tributes to numerous diverse individuals, such as swing band vocalist/movie star Doris Day, obscure bebop altoist Dave Schildkraut, famous 19th century black pianist and composer Blind Tom Bethune, and civil rights activists Pauli Murray and Ella Mae Wiggins. Other pieces reference Bud Powell, Elvis Presley, Duke Ellington, Lennie Tristano, the Velvet Underground, Albert Ayler, Dave Brubeck, Pete Brown, and Jelly Roll Morton. As one can see, the reach is mind-boggling. The first three selections alone on CD 1 recall consecutively the work of Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, and Julius Hemphill.

Besides Lowe's proficiency and passion on saxophones and guitar (not to mention his included fascinating written annotations), the project's overwhelming success is largely due to Rudd's always distinctive trombone, Matthew Shipp and Lewis Porter's personalized and versatile keyboards, the luminosity of guitarists Marc Ribot and Ray Suhy, the impactful Tom Waits-like vocals of Todd Hutchisen, and the receptive and responsive bass and electronic drums of Jessie Hautala and Jake Millet.

As Lowe asks, "Is blues a matter of feeling or form(at)?," or as he otherwise puts it, "form and feeling as vessels of stylistic transport." It's a constant joy to be on board for the extended and winding ride. Blues and the Empirical Truth should make quite a few Top 10 lists for 2011.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
thanks, guys, it's been a semi-succesful year (also won the Maine Arts Commission Individual Artists' Fellowship). Have barely gigged the last 15 years, which have gone by frightenly fast. Hoping some of these reviews help us pick up a few things, as well as looking to get to Europe next year or so.
 

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Very cool project and congrats on the positive review, I'd love to buy a copy of the recording but when I go to your site the album comes up but I don't see any place to "add to my cart" while there is a message showing that "my cart is empty". Maybe that's more of a metaphorical comment on my life in general, but I don't think so :bluewink:.

In any case, how do I buy this in a way that puts the $ in your pocket rather than some faceless corporation?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
got your payment, thanks; I'm going to the Post office this afternoon so I should be able to mail it -
 

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Sound fantastic! I'll take one too!
 

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I received the album yesterday, I've had a chance to listen to all 3 cds once while I was working but haven't had a chance to do any focused listening yet. I've quite enjoyed it so far.
 
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