Return to KRAB Audio Archives main menu

Return to New in the KRAB Archive

The KRAB Audio Archive
Jazz Now, with Lowell Richards

Problems listening, or comments? Please let us know. E-mail

Jazz Now with Lowell Richards - KRAB Dec 14, 1966

JAZZ NOW. L Richards discusses the new Smoke school of music, in which clarinets are stuffed with napalm and lit. With flourish. [Guide listing Nov 29, 1966]

After nine years of searching we have finally found Lowell hiding in an unlabeled recording preserved in the University of Maryland's NFCB collection. Right where we left him - sort of. Anyway, if you listened to KRAB prior to 1970 you would have heard Lowell Richards. We do not have an exact date when he signed up to do a program, but he appears in the earliest program guide in our collection on Wednesday Feb 13, 1963 at 10:00pm (Music and comments with Lowell Richards, which runs until he gets tired.).

Lowell connected KRAB with a variety of Seattle organizations and activities, from the Seattle Jazz Society to the Helix, the Black Panthers and Musicians Union Local 76. We've collected a batch of clippings and articles that reflect the diversity of his interests.

This program aired the day after Lowell was elected Secretary of Local 76. At the same meeting union members also elected their first Black President, Winfield King. Nine years earlier they merged the segregated Black membership of Local 493 into the previously all-white Local 76. This is all to say things were changing, and Lowell was in the midst of it.

In the Seattle Times obituary of Barrie Vye, Paul de Barros writes that Lowell Richards was an original member of the Rainy City Jazz Band. Dr Frederick B Exner released several 78's of the Rainy City Jazz Band, and you can see Lowell in the list of musician's on the label.

In 1958 the "jazz-poet" Kenneth Patchen was touring and reading his poetry accompanied by jazz musicians in clubs in Vancouver, Canada and heading for Seattle. In Seattle Patchen connected with an old friend named Johnny Wittwer who had a band named the New Bed of Roses Chamber Jazz Group which included Lowell Richards, Bob Gilkeson, Floyd Standifer, and George Mulllaly. They performed on Feb 27 and 28 in the Musician's Auditorium Third Avenue and Cedar Street. It is unlikely it had anything to do with Lowell getting the gig, but Dr Frederick B Exner's record company also released several 78's featuring Johnny Wittwer. (Kenneth Patchen: Rebel Poet in America by Larry Smith)

On Feb 25, 1970, to the shock of everyone, at the age of 49 Lowell died of a heart attack. Paul Dorpat wrote about Lowell in the Feb 26th Helix. His obituary gives you a good idea of who Lowell was. (It is a PDF and you can make the type as big as you like to read it.)

The March 2, 1970 KRAB program guide has this poem:

Lowell, the spirit of our music, his heart
feeding and fathering the youngest of us. Would-be
musicians turned to collective sons of song . . . his own
private dirges, remembrances for Bird, for Pres, for
Lady Day, and Wardell. Thumping your tune into the
jazz of Seattle and listening -- always listening --
teaching us to learn, to swing, never forgetting what
was, what is, opening doors to what can be, what will
be . . . Sleepless drive through the black rain in 'the
soft seat of your Citroen in those crazy maroon cords
to help young friends to make it through their own
terror. Lugging instruments, making an old man smile.
The music you gave, organizing, cajoling, creating,
supporting; the picnics, the parties, and your quiet
presence leading us like a silent piper, sighing a
soft smile at the love you created.

Here are some of the writings of Lowell Richards, and some written about him:

Lowell in downbeat (articles about Music Educators National Conference, Country Joe and the Fish, Sky River Rock Festival on Betty Nelson's Organic Raspberry Farm, and downbeat's obit: The Final Bar.)

Lowell in Helix (Seattle Jazz Society Benefit at Four Freedoms retirement home, The Reverend James Bevel Tape, and other mentions)

Clippings from other sources

So here he is. The first words of the introduction are truncated , so it opens abruptly.

Listen now Jazz Now with Lowell Richards - KRAB Dec 14, 1966 (59:01)

Recordings courtesy University of Maryland Special Collections and University Archives, collection of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) - umd-bcast-072191-0001-1

If you possess any souvenirs (program guides, tapes, or photos) or have a story about your experience with KRAB you are willing to share, please email

Go to top of page