MVP LSD: The Graphic Scores of Lowell Skinner Davidson
Riti CD 10
Joe Morris, guitar
John Voigt, bass
Tom Plsek, trombone
In the 1960s, Lowell Skinner Davidson (1941-1990) was active in two very different milieus: studying biochemistry at Harvard and playing with Ornette Coleman in the New York free jazz scene. Davidson made only one LP, Lowell Davidson Trio (ESP, 1965), but left behind a great deal of unrecorded material. Much of this was notated as graphic scores on 3×5 index cards. These serve as the jumping off point for a full length recording by Joe Morris, John Voigt, and Tom Plsek.
All three worked with Davidson, making this a recording that is closer to authoritative than many potential interpretations of his diminutive, but densely packed, scores. The music is imparted both the rhythmic fluidity of swing, but the trio also acknowledges the influence of the avant-garde New York School (John Cage, Morton Feldman, Earle Brown, and Christian Wolff), and their penchant for graphic score realizations. Thus, Voigt alternates swinging walking bass-lines with angular melodies, multiphonics, and harmonics. Plsek undertakes free jazz solos, but also explores the noise spectrum of blats and wails. Morris’ post-tonal comping style fits right in here, supplying a bridge between jazz and concert music genres. He also frequently adopts a vigorous, snapping attack, adding percussive affects to the proceedings.
While it is unfortunate that Lowell Skinner Davidson didn’t have the opportunity to more prolifically record, all three of this CD’s performers are dedicated custodians of his musical legacy. Based on the evidence here, one hopes his scores will become more widely available for study and performance.