For even the astute early creative music lover, pianist Lowell Davidson is an obscure figure in the annals of jazz. Recommended to ESP-Disk by Ornette Coleman and signed to record his music without an audition, Davidson was the son of a theologist, studied biochemistry at Harvard, was fatally injured in a lab accident, and died at age 50. This is his only studio session, although ESP claims to have a live date from a Boston engagement in the can. He is accompanied by the stellar, and in this case sublime rhythm section of bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Milford Graves, and the result is a fascinating display of understated, purely improvised music that is eminently listenable, beautifully conceived, and flowing through past, present (circa 1965) and future resources. Of the five tracks -- all consistently intriguing and well played -- the opener "L" is deliciously exploratory but not dissonant, diffuse and fractured but scarcely scattered. You realize that Peacock and Graves utilize perfectly supportive, keen listening skills during the pensive and introspective "Stately 1." The slight visage of Cecil Taylor, or perhaps the dark brooding style of Mal Waldron crops up during the short cut "Dunce," nonplussed or bright and beautiful. In contrast, a thematic approach launches the lengthy "Ad Hoc" and "Strong Tears," the former a rumbling, rambling then a playful Tayloresque discourse with a bass solo from the always brilliant Peacock, the latter showing evocative restraint, never overplayed, with some calmed drama near the coda. What Lowell Davidson offers, aside from parallels to Paul Bley, is a sensible and free flowing approach to unconventional linear improvisation, and in many ways a lost art. Others like Valdo Williams, Burton Greene and Eric Watson were somehow lost in the shuffle like Lowell Davidson, but thankfully he has been given another chance to be discovered, and to revel in this unearthing of a brilliant musician is to be universally celebrated. Seek this distinguished document -- it is a treasure.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos