Allen Lowe and the Constant Sorrow Orchestra

Jazz Combo

Allen Lowe grew up in Massapequa Park, New York in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He started playing saxophone in jazz groups at age 15 and had some of his first jazz experiences, as a teenager, at the legendary Lower East Sideclub Slugs, seeing Ornette Coleman’s band and Charles Mingus, among others. Coming of age at the end of the 1960s he also saw groups like Super Session (Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper), the Grateful Dead (at their first Central Park concert in 1967), the Mothers of Invention (at Columbia University, 1968). Not to mention Louis Armstrong at Freedomland, circa 1964. When his young band (with guitarist Joel Perry) was booked for a festival in Bedford Stuyvesant circa 1968, they turned out to be one of the opening acts for the comeback appearance of Eubie Blake.


Allen Lowe

Allen Lowe is a saxophonist, composer, mastering engineer and music historian. He was named Artist of the Year in the 2021 Jazz Times Readers’ Poll.

He teaches at Jazz at Lincoln Center (he has taught classes on the blues and on jazz history, and is set to do a sixteen part series later this year called “Blues and the Black Vernacular.”)

He has two new recording projects under his name,  released in the Spring of 2023: In the Dark (3 discs) (featuring Ken Peplowski) and America: The Rough Cut. Both are on ESP DISK.

He has recorded as a leader with David Murray, Doc Cheatham, JD Allen, Marc Ribot, Ken Peploswki, Kalaparusha, Matt Shipp, James Brandon Lewis, Don Byron, Nels Cline, Darius Jones, Julius Hemphill, Roswell Rudd, Lewis Porter, Loren Schoenberg, Ursula Oppens, Randy Sandke, and Lewis Porter. He has performed nationally and internationally, including performances at New York City’s Dizzy’s, the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Smalls, the Knitting Factory and Sweet Basil. He has released approximately 20 compact discs under his own name. 

There are entries about him in the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz and The Penguin Guide to Jazz on Compact Disc. There is a chapter on him in the book Bebop and Nothingness, by Francis Davis (Schirmer Books: 1996).

His book, Turn Me Loose White Man: How to Listen to American Music 1900-1960 has been called “unprecedented” by Eric Lott, and was written up in the Wall Street Journal. Gene Seymour named this book as one of the top cultural events of 2021. The book was also nominated for the Ralph Gleason Award.

Blues historian Frank Scott has called him “a Harry Smith for the 21st century,” Greil Marcus has remarked that “Allen Lowe is the most dedicated and ambitious musical anthologist America has ever prodoced.” Matt Glaser has described Lowe was the “autodidact genius of American music,” and jazz historian Larry Gushee remarked “Allen Lowe has reinvented free jazz.” Kalaparusha said “Allen Lowe is a great composer.” Anthony Braxton has said “Allen Lowe is the tradition and is one of the few musicians who is doing anything new.”

He has a new book of his writings on jazz and his experiences with cancer, scheduled for 2023 release.

He has had five of his books published: Really The Blues? A Blues Chronicle 1893-1959; God Didn’t Like It: Electric Hillbillies, Singing Preachers, and the Beginning of Rock and Roll, 1950- 1970; That Devilin’ Tune: A Jazz History, 1900-1950; and Turn Me Loose White Man, or: Appropriating Culture: How to to Listen to American Music, 1900-1960.

An 8 CD set of his compositional jazz work and his saxophone playing going back to the 1980s was issued by ESP Disk. It is called Jews & Roots: Disconnected Works, 1980-2018.

Sponsors & Partners