Boomkat Product Review:
Sizzling drum work and pranging sax blurt from 1973 by free jazz masters Rashied Ali (percussion) and Frank Lowe (tenor sax, flute), newly mixed down from the original 4-track master tapes
“A Free Jazz masterpiece is again on the block—bigger and better than ever. Rashied Ali / Frank Lowe Duo Exchange is legitimately re-released on LP for the first time, mastered from original tapes for the first time, and expanded with nearly an hour’s music from the session never before heard.
You know Duo Exchange as the flagship release of Rashied Ali’s Survival Records. When the record was made, Survival still belonged jointly to Ali and Frank Lowe, and the recording sessions done at Marzette Watts’s studio were the maiden voyage for their partnership. With the release of the record in 1973, Ali and his family and Frank Lowe and his family all became executives and clerks helping to get the word out. And getting the records out—at loft shows and Village record haunts. Survival was on its way.
The message of untamed tenor saxophone and Ali’s drums should sound familiar: That’s the combination that made Jazz history in Ali’s 1967 duets with his then-employer, John Coltrane. What eventually came out as Interstellar Space is its own pinnacle of the genre, but its release was still in the future when Duo Exchange was waxed. Frank Lowe and Rashied Ali went into studio to capture the vehemence bursting forth nightly in the lofts. And, as recently celebrated by Soul Jazz Records, they, also capitalized in two further tracks on the delicacy of low-amplitude Free Jazz. (Trane in his Kulu Se Mama era pioneered this as well, and would develop it further with Alice Coltrane on board in his last two years) This release not only restores those sections of the original record (inexplicably excised from early CD releases) but expands it with fascinating outtake versions that rephrase the familiar tracks.
The entire project benefits from a new mix of the original 4-channel tapes: You hear the pristine bite of that raw energy for the classic master takes, the sections that didn’t fit on the record, and multiple unissued alternative versions of both.”