Life Builders: Ed Lowe

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The next person I want to talk about in my Life Builders series is my good friend, Ed Lowe, aka The Lobster. Ed and I first met on a salsa gig with Rolando Llamas, back in the early 90’s. That band didn’t last long and I think Rolando Llamas has long since left town, but Ed and I have been working together ever since. I think that was probably about 1991.

Music Shop Talk

One of the things that makes Ed different from most of my music friends is that he doesn’t mind talking about music on our time off. This is probably one of the biggest reasons Ed and I have been so close all of these years. Most musicians really don’t like to talk shop on the breaks. Music is their job and talking about music is like work to them. So for most gigs, Ed and I tend to hang out together on the breaks.

Ha! When the breaks are long enough, we go to his car to listen to music. I think the assumption is that when musicians go to outside on the breaks, it’s usually for some other reason. But no, Ed and I really do spend a lot of time talking about music.

This reminds me of when I played with Terrence Blanchard, probably about the same time as when Ed Lowe and I met. I played in the University of Houston Jazz Ensemble for a very short stint in the early 90’s and we did a show with Terrence Blanchard as the guest soloist. On one of the breaks, Terrence Blanchard said that you can tell who the serious musicians are by what they talk about on their breaks. He said that most musicians talk about girls, cars, sports, etc., but that the serious players usually talk about music. He said that they share stories from their careers and share musical wisdom – even on their time off.

That’s how things have been with Ed and I and I love it. If you’ve been following this Life Builders series, then you know that this series is about recognizing those people who contributed to¬† my success in life. His willingness to always talk about music puts Ed high up on the list of people who had an influence in my career. Ed Lowe has shared so much musical wisdom with me during our talks while at the same time giving me an opportunity to bounce some of my whacky ideas off of him. So yeah, hanging out with Ed on the breaks has made a significant difference in my life.

New York Via North Texas Connection

Over the years Ed has turned me on to a lot of great recordings. He sort of has his finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the national jazz scene through his friendship with two of his NTSU (now called UNT) buddies, Conrad Herwig and Jim Snidero. Ed keeps me up to date on whatever big news he hears from them, especially when a good CD has been released.

Ed is most definitely a New York influenced player. His compositions and his improvisation style are rooted in the jazz flavors of the east coast. It is because of Ed that I even know what the New York style sounds like. It is through Ed Lowe that I learned about all the “hip” technical things those players are doing. I’m not saying that I do much of that stuff. I enjoy listening to it and I learn so much from the recordings, and that’s enough for me. That’s a LOT, really!

Tom Borling BeBop Band

The first serious work we ever did together was in Tom Borling’s Bebop Band. This was a band that rehearsed one day per week and performed once or twice per year. It featured David Caceres on saxes, Ed Lowe on trombone, Tom Borling on piano, Lex Valk on bass and Mike Lefebvre on drums. The band did mostly Art Blakey styled arrangements but it was also a wonderful opportunity for me to do some combo writing. We even recorded a CD of mostly my tunes in the late 90’s.

Working with Ed in a band that was playing my compositions was the perfect opportunity to work on cleaning up my trombone parts, which have been something of a joke in the past. Ed sounds good on my compositions, but no thanks to me and my writing. Thanks to the time we spent talking about the parts, my trombone parts are a lot more playable today.

Divorce Stuff

Ed was also very supportive when I was going through the divorce. Like me, Ed doesn’t believe in divorce, so before I found out that there was another guy, Ed met with my ex to try to talk her out of it. That may not seem like such a big deal to you, but during a time when no one would say anything to her, that made Ed my champion.

Unfortunately, I think people assume that, if your wife left you, it must have been for a good reason. No one had the guts to tell her that she was doing the wrong thing, not family, not friends. We have reached a point in our society where divorce is almost a given and those who fight against the tide must have something wrong with them. So yeah, it was comforting to have Ed Lowe step up to the plate for me, in the interest of my family. There were a lot of people who helped me in various ways during the divorce, but what Ed did took a lot of courage and demonstrated a degree of caring that I really needed at that time in my life.

Recordings and Horn Section Work

Ed Lowe and I have played SO MANY gigs together and that translates into us being a significant part of a tight horn section. So it’s no surprise that we have done a lot of recordings together. We are on CDs by Calvin Owens, Derrick Horne, Ezra Charles, Tom Borling, Kris Becker, Walter Suhr (Mango Punch), just to name a few. We’ve done lots of jingle and TV spots together. Sometimes we team up in the studio with Kelly Dean, sometimes with David Caceres, and on some wonderfully rare occasions with both Kelly and David on the same sessions.

When we play horn section gigs together, because we’ve been working together for so long, we often don’t need music and can even create spontaneous horn parts as we go. We think the same. We have similar ideas for horn lines. We harmonize each other very well, and the lines just seem to flow. We have a lot of horn parts already in our heads but for those tunes that we don’t already know, we are ready to create them on the spot. For that reason, we are pretty popular as a horn section team, in and out of the studio.

Thank You Ed

One of the things I’m learning as I continue to write these posts for my Life Builders series is that I haven’t done a very good job of letting people know that I appreciate them. Ed and I have been working together for almost twenty-five years now and I don’t think I’ve ever expressed my gratitude. I think part of it is a guy thing. Guys don’t typically talk like that until they feel it’s almost too late (like someone is dying or something). But it’s also because I’m not much of a talker. I know that sounds like a contradiction because I just finished saying that Ed and I have spent so many hours talking. But it’s different to talk about jazz theory and who’s got new CDs out and stuff like that.

So anyway, I want to officially say thank you Ed Lowe. You have been a great friend and an inspiration to my musicianship, and I DO appreciate you.

  1. Robert Morgan

    Wonderfully expressed (again!), Eddie! I definitely agree with your enthusiasm for Ed Lowe musically, and, as a divorced person myself, can readily identify with the value of having a “soundboard,” such as you had in Ed, at such a time. And, to share that “publicly” takes a lot of intestinal fortitude on your part. Thanks for doing so, and I look forward to additional “Life Builders.”

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