Reviews that mention Peter Kowald

October 11, 2015

Alexander von Schlippenbach

Globe Unity
MPS DL (EAN/UPC 4250644881299)

Listening to this crucial session from nearly a half-century ago from the vantage point of 2015, suggests just how timeless some Free Jazz remains. Conversely it reminds us how much of its time programs like this one are. Globe Unity – the performance and LP which birthed a long-running European Free Music aggregation – appeared historically in between two Jazz milestones, John Coltrane’s Ascension in 1965 and Peter Brötzmann’s Machine Gun in 1968. Unlike the octet featured on the latter or the 11 players on Ascension, Globe Unity consists of 14 musicians, a small big band with strings, brass, reeds and percussion represented. MORE

December 21, 2014

NPR 9th Annual Jazz Critics Poll: 2014

Ken Waxman’s ballot


1. Yoni Kretzmer-Pascal Niggenkemper-Weasel Walter, Protest Music (OutNow)

2. Paul Giallorenzo, Force Majeure (Delmark)

3. Kyle Bruckmann, . . . Awaits Silent Tristero's Empire (SingleSpeed Music)

4. Sakata/Lonberg-Holm/Gutvik/Nilssen-Love, The Cliff of Time (PNL)

5. Alexander Hawkins, Step Wide, Step Deep (Babel)

6. François Carrier-Michel Lambert-Alexey Lapin, The Russia Concerts Volume 1/The Russia Concerts Volume 2 (FMR)

7. Rodrigo Amado & Jeb Bishop, The Flame Alphabet (NotTwo) MORE

December 11, 2014

Peter Kowald

Jazz Werksttatt JW 150

Taylor Ho Bynum 7-Tett

Navigation (Possibly Abstracts XI & XIII)

Firehouse 12 FH-12-04-01-019

Hans Lüdemann

Die Kunst des Trio 1-5

BMC Records BMC CD 196

Flat Earth Society


Igloo IGL 257

Something In The Air: Outstanding and Unusual Boxed Sets

By Ken Waxman

As the availability of music on different media continues to proliferate, the focus of the durable box set has become equally diverse. No longer does a multi-disc collection have to be definitive or far-ranging. As a matter of fact some of the best, like the ones discussed here, concentrate on certain sequences in an artist’s career. MORE

December 6, 2014

Peter Kowald/Daunik Lazro/Annick Nozati

Instants Chavirés
Fou Records FR-CD 05

By Ken Waxman

Known for her long-time collaborations with other free music avatars like pianist Fred Van Hove and trombonist Johannes Bauer, Annick Nozati (1945-2000) indefatigably demonstrated that remarkable vocal improvisations didn’t necessarily have to come from the jazz tradition … or even music. For the French chanteuse’s spontaneous vocal mutations were just as closely allied to her work in experimental theatre plus her pointillist blending of textures and colors as a painter. MORE

September 11, 2014

Kidd Jordan/Alvin Fielder/Peter Kowald

Trio and Duo in New Orleans
NoBusiness Records NBCD 64/65

Pete Robbins


Hate Laugh Music 003 pet

Jean Derome et Lé Quan Ninh


Tour de Bras TDB 9004cd

Fred Van Hove/Damon Smith/Peter Jacquemyn

Burns Longer

Balance Point Acoustics BPA2

Sun Ra Arkestra

Live in Ulm 1992

Golden Years of Jazz GY 30/31

Something In The Air: Guelph Jazz Festival Reaches A New Maturity

By Ken Waxman

Moving into a comfortable adulthood, the annual Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF), September 3 to 7, hasn’t abandoned its presentation of new artists. However it has reached the state where musicians who have been there in the past are returning, but mostly in new contexts. Case in point in 2014, the 100th anniversary of bandleader Sun Ra’s arrival on this planet – he returned to the cosmos in 1993 – where the Sun Ra Arkestra, now under the direction of alto saxophonist Marshall Allen, gives two performances on September 6. The first is an afternoon parade; the second couples the band with dancers from the Colman Lemieux Company for Hymn to the Universe, a multi-media presentation at the River Run Centre (RRC). MORE

March 6, 2012

The New York City Jazz Record Interview

With Pierre Favre
By Ken Waxman

During a career of more than 55 years, Swiss drummer Pierre Favre, who turns 75 in June, has been a constantly innovating musician. One of the first Swiss players to embrace free music in the late ’60s, since that time he’s explored a variety of musical concepts from giving solo percussion concerts to composing notated works and collaborating with folkloric-influenced improvisers. Making a rare New York apperance this month, Favre plays three times in diffemt configurations during the two weeks Intakt Records curates The Stone. MORE

April 8, 2011

FMP In Rückblick

In Retrospect 1969-2010
FMP CD 137 - FMP CD 148

Something in the Air: FMP`s 40th Anniversary

By Ken Waxman

Throughout jazz history, independent labels have typified sounds of the time. In the Swing era it was Commodore; Modern jazz was prominent on Blue Note and Prestige; and with Improvised Music, FMP is one of the longest lasting imprints. Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the Berlin-based label has given listeners a spectacular birthday present with FMP In Rückblick – In Retrospect 1969-2010,12 [!] CDs representing FMP’s past and future – the oldest from 1975, the newest, by American cellist Tristan Honsinger and German guitarist Olaf Rupp from 2010, half previously unissued – plus an LP-sized, 218-page book, lavishly illustrated with contemporary photographs, posters, album covers and a discography. MORE

July 17, 2005

André Goudbeek/Peter Jacquemyn/Peter Kowald/Jeffrey Morgan

Dubbel Duo

Peter Kowald/Alberto Braida/Gincarlo Locatelli
Free Elephant

By Ken Waxman
July 17, 2005

Peter Kowald’s sudden death at 58 in 2002 deeply affected many other experimental players, since the bassist from Wuppertal, Germany was one of the few to have established himself as a true world musician. As likely to be playing with local improvisers on traditional instruments in Tokyo as with Free Jazz saxophonists and drummers in New York, Kowald had an enviable reputation as someone who could and would work himself into any musical situation, whether it be jazz, New music, traditionally oriented sounds or anything in between. MORE

September 27, 2004

Carlos Bechegas/Peter Kowald

Open Secrets: A Suite in 13 Parts

Carlos Bechegas/Alexander Von Schlippenbach
Open Speech

By Ken Waxman

September 27, 2004

Going mano à mano with two of the founder of European Free Music -- German division -- is no challenge for the faint-hearted, especially when your opposite number is packing a double bass or a grand piano respectively, and your only weapons are a couple of small metallic flutes.

But Lisbon-based Carlos Bechegas has the talent and technique to hold his own in these situations. Listening to these duo dates, recorded four years apart, you hear how his playing has evolved still further since the first meeting. The output is more confident and his delivery more relaxed, yet building on the high standard he already set. MORE

September 20, 2004


Ornette on Bass
Not Two MW 747-2

a|l|l| 008

Deep Music
Free elephant 003

Practically a seminar on solo and duo techniques of the double bass, the three CDs here show that there are multiple ways to showcase an instrument that in its basest (sic) definition is no more than a hunk of tempered wood strung with four long strands of wire.

Intriguingly enough, the three older players -- duets between the late German bassist Peter Kowald (1944-202) and American William Parker on one hand, and Kowald and German Peter Jacquemyn on the other -- stick to in-the-moment free expression, with mixed results. The youngsters, Poland’s Marcin Oles and Bolzano, Italy-born, Berlin resident Klaus Janek, follow more idiosyncratic paths. MORE

December 8, 2003


Meniscus MNSCS012

Illuminations (Several Views)
Rastascan BRD 049

One percussionist, one musician who plays a four-string instrument and another whose equipment is strung with many multiples of strings make up both trios featured on these improv sessions. Yet despite these points of congruence, they’re as different as hot dogs and fish-and-chips, as one featured two Americans, the others two Brits.

Actually it’s the third man -- coincidentally a German -- who probably best defines the differences. ILLUMINATIONS (SEVERAL VIEWS) features the late Peter Kowald combining his bass fiddle and basso voice with Miya Masaoka’s kotos and Gino Robair’s percussion on 16 furious, roaring take-no-prisoners sound pieces. MORE

November 10, 2003


MA: Live at the Fundacio Juan Miro
Hopscotch 15

Dear Peter…
Improjazz PRGT 001

German bassist Peter Kowald’s peripatetic life and willingness to improvise with musicians of all stripes and nationalities immensely widened the circle of musicians who mourned his sudden death from a heart attack at 58, in September 2002.

His enthusiasm for musical collaboration, which seemed to augment in the year or so before his death -- a characteristic he shared with other first generation European improvisers such as Peter Brötzmann, Evan Parker and Derek Bailey -- has meant that a raft of recent CDs have celebrated the bassist’s skills. Although not one is the definite last session, MA is one of the more impressive efforts. MORE

October 27, 2003


Dual Resonance
Circumvention 037

Eighteen improvisations in duo, trio and quartet formations make up this unique CD, cast as both a memorial to German bassist Peter Kowald and as much more.

Uncomfortable with the idea of turning what had been a spontaneous series of musical meetings with the bassist in 2000 into a full-fledged commemorative disc -- with all the presumptuous baggage associated with the act -- the three other participants decided on another course. Recording in trio formation almost three years later, they mixed the nine new tracks among the 11 featuring Kowald. The result is a tribute that extends Kowald’s ideas within the ongoing musical context that these Californians operate. MORE

June 16, 2003


Live from the Vision Festival
Thirsty Ear THI 57131.2

The next best thing to being there, this combination CD and DVD package offers a distillation of some of the outstanding performances from last year’s Vision Festival in New York’s Lower East Side. Lacking the name recognition of Newport, Montreux, or any other capitalist entity-associated international star festival, in its less than 10 year existence, Vision has still promulgated a unique artistic vision.

Built around the vision of bassist William Parker, it’s a place where pioneering avant gardists from the 1960s mix it up with younger players who are carrying on experimental ideals. It’s cross-cultural, national and international as well, with the musicians showcased on this session arriving from Germany, Korea, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, Valencia, Calif., New Orleans… and Brooklyn, MORE

May 26, 2003


13 Definitions Of Truth
Quakebasket 17/Locust 20

Macabre after a fashion, this fine duo CD resonates with extra-musical prescience, since it was recorded in the same space where German bassist Peter Kowald would play his final concert less than 10 months later.

Kowald died of heart failure in September 2002, after falling ill after a trio gig at Brooklyn’s b.p.m. multi-art space. A man who was constantly refining his playing, this earlier tête-à-tête with American percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani shows that the bassist was up to new situations and new challenges at all times. MORE

May 12, 2003


Between Heaven And Earth
Intakt CD 079

Strangely prophetic in its title, BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH, is the second and final CD of this particular trio, recorded about 10 months before the sudden death of bassist Peter Kowald at 58.

It was only one of the many projects involving the peripatetic bassist, who over the years had expanded his reach from being a German Free Jazz player to someone as comfortable playing with Asian traditional instrumentalists as American downtowners. But in the mixed-up mosaic of Continental politics, this German trio was unique on its own. MORE

December 16, 2002


European Echoes
Atavistic Unheard Music UMS/ALP 232CD

The Living Music
Atavistic Unheard Music UMS/ALP 231CD

Multi-reedman Peter Brötzmann always insists that when pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach and trumpeter Manfred Schoof first heard his pioneering free jazz band in the mid-1960s “they just laughed their asses off. At that time they played the Horace Silver-style thing”. But, by the end of the decade as Brötzmann widened his circle to include other experimenters like Dutch drummer Han Bennink and worked with American jazzers like trumpeter Don Cherry and soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, his fellow Germans began to come around as well. MORE

November 11, 2002


Principle Hope
Sublingual SLR012

Given added poignancy by the sudden death of German bassist Peter Kowald in late September PRINCIPLE HOPE shouldn’t be heard as a celebratory memorial. Rather this CD, recorded a year-and-half before the bassist’s fatal heart attack is notable as a once in a lifetime meeting between a quartet of simpatico improvisers separated only by accidents of age, race and citizenship.

Kowald, who had been one of the most important German free improvisers ever since he first recorded with tenor saxophonist Peter Brötzmann in the late 1960s, also had long time associations with other Continental musicians like Swiss drummer Pierre Favre, British saxophonist Evan Parker and membership in pianist Alexander Von Schlippenbach’s Globe Unity Orchestra. A frequent visitor to the United States his Yank playing partners ranged from veteran saxophonist Fred Anderson and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith to young fellow bassist Damon Smith. MORE

November 4, 2002


Blackwater Bridge
Drimala DR 02-347-02

Accretions ALP 025CD

Making a list of dedicated harpists who excel in -- or even play -- free form music doesn’t take too long. In improvised music, for instance, there’s Briton Rhodri Davies and American Zeena Parkins and … Davies and Parkins. In jazz there was Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane and, … unsurprisingly, Ashby and Coltrane.

However BLACKWATER BRIDGE, an exacting duo disc featuring alto saxophonist Gary Hassay, definitely adds harpist Anne LeBaron to that stellar company. Considering the unadorned musical circumstances here, her work may be even more noteworthy. After all, solo saxophone doesn’t provide much back up. MORE

September 23, 2002


For Adolphe Sax
Atavistic Unheard Music Series ALP 230

Americans might have been in the middle of the psychedelics-fueled Summer of Love in June 1967, but things were a little more complicated in Europe. Especially in the northern part of the continent, politically committed revolutionaries were a lot easier to find than hippies. Educational, generational and societal unrest was rife, protests against racism, colonialism and the Viet Nam war were routine, and the situation existed that would culminate in demonstrations in 1968. European radicals were more likely to be wearing red armbands than flowers in their hair. MORE

May 10, 2002


Live In Berlin
Soul Note SN 120069-2

Listening to this disc almost 20 years after it was recorded in a Berlin concert you can hear how much pianist Marilyn Crispell has changed -- and remained the same -- since that time.

Very much a product of the epoch, the band is performing a version of energy music, not unlike that practiced by tenor saxophonist John Coltrane’s quartet -- one of her acknowledged influences -- with Crispell in the McCoy Tyner or Alice Coltrane role and violinist Billy Bang taking on the Trane mantle. At the same time, having a violin as a solo voice brings up memories of those groups featuring fiddlers like Ramsey Ameen and Leroy Jenkins and led by Cecil Taylor, another Crispell totem. MORE

March 1, 2002


Soul Bodies, Vol. 1
Ayler aylCD-0024

Open Systems
Marge 28

Stripped down to music’s internal skeleton, real-time improvisation is so basic that it can often be as chancy as trying to reconstruct a human being from his bone structure alone. But when it does work, the results are as spectacular as the accomplishments of anthropologists who use the properties of a few bone shards to discover nearly everything about a vanished personage.

Master drummer Hamid Drake and reedman Assif Tsahar pull out their symbolic pick axes and labor in the improv trenches at 2001’s Vision Festival in New York on SOUL BODIES. During the course of three long pieces they firmly and distinctively bring into being living, breathing bodies of outstanding improvisations. If they miscalculate in any way, it’s in not spending enough time solidifying the souls to enlighten these improv creatures. MORE

December 3, 2001


Globe Unity ’67 & ‘70
Atavistic Unheard Music UMS/ALP 223 CD

Souvenirs of a time when “globe unity” meant more than the convergence of commercial or military interests, this CD of never-before-released tracks feature a small army of Euro improvisers luxuriating in the freedom promulgated by John Coltrane’s ASCENSION and The Jazz Composer’s Orchestra.

Formed in late 1966, following a Berlin Jazz Festival commission for founder/pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, the Globe Unity Orchestra (GUO) evolved over the years from this wild-and-wooly Energy ensemble to one that joined other European large groups in a concern for compositions. Besides, many might find that these two pieces, initially taped for German radio, more exciting than what came from the band afterwards. MORE

October 8, 2001


Mirrors - Broken But No Dust
Balance Point Acoustics BPA 001

The sale of tickets for money was abolished
Balance Point Acoustics BPA 002

It's altogether fitting that Bay area bassist Damon Smith has put out a duet session with German bassist Peter Kowald as the first release on his own label. After all it was exposure to Kowald's DUOS: EUROPA LP in 1994 that convinced the young musician to sell the fender bass he had been playing in punk and art rock combos to concentrate on double bass and creative improvised music. MORE

March 1, 2001


Soul Bodies, Vol. 1
Ayler aylCD-0024

Open Systems
Marge 28

Stripped down to music’s internal skeleton, real-time improvisation is so basic that it can often be as chancy as trying to reconstruct a human being from his bone structure alone. But when it does work, the results are as spectacular as the accomplishments of anthropologists who use the properties of a few bone shards to discover nearly everything about a vanished personage.

Master drummer Hamid Drake and reedman Assif Tsahar pull out their symbolic pick axes and labor in the improv trenches at 2001’s Vision Festival in New York on SOUL BODIES. During the course of three long pieces they firmly and distinctively bring into being living, breathing bodies of outstanding improvisations. If they miscalculate in any way, it’s in not spending enough time solidifying the souls to enlighten these improv creatures. MORE

October 4, 2000


Hunting The Snake
Atavistic/Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP 213 CD

One of the longest lasting of Euroimprov groups -- since 1972 -- the trio of Parker/Schlippenbach/Lovens was also unique because, until the 1990s, it recorded so infrequently.

But that's understandable as well. German pianist Schlippenbach was busy with first the Globe Unity Orchestra and then the Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra; German drummer Lovens was sideman of choice for everyone from Cecil Taylor to Eugene Chadbourne; and Englishman Parker -- citizen of the world -- was behind the microphone with everyone from a Tuvan throat singer to Italian improvisers.