Peter Kowald / April 21, 1944 - Sept 21, 2002

A favorite of many on the instrument, the much-missed Peter Kowald was a major league improvising bassist. He was a member of Globe Unity Orchestra, Cooperative Trio, his "world music" project Global Village, London Jazz Composers Orchestra, Schlippenbach Trio and many others.

A native of Germany, he started playing in 1960 and he and Peter Brotzmann hooked up for some racket shortly thereafter. They started touring in '66 with Carla Bley & Mike Mantler. He had a longtime association with Globe Unity, recording several records with them. He sometimes composed for and conducted that wild big band.

Aside from his life-long work and friendship with Brotzmann (and several of his formations) he also played with many, many leading figures from the experimental and improvising music world: William Parker, Diamanda Galas, Cecil Taylor, my old neighbor Chris Corsano, Evan Parker, Butch Morris, Rashied Ali, Sainkho Namtchylak, Bill Dixon, Fred Anderson, Wadada Leo Smith, Joe McPhee, Trilok Gurtu, Tom Cora and Fred Anderson are just a few.

He performed and recorded solo bass projects, duos with bassists and other musicians, as well as working with poets, dancers, vocalists and in several large multinational improvising orchestras. He also played tuba. He died in the arms and home of William Parker. Witnessing a live solo bass performance by Peter Kowald was invigorating and exciting and I was fortunate to have been there.

Peter in quartet with Charles Gayle, Marilyn Crispell and Rashied Ali in NYC:

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