Kidd Jordan | Peter Kowald | Alvin Fielder | Live in New Orleans | No Business Records

There are few left playing to whom the term “master” can be applied without reservation. Kidd Jordan and Alvin Fielder are two such musicians. Peter Kowald, who was taken from us far too soon, was another. Fielder and Jordan have been communing through deep listening and resultant improvisation since the 1970s, when the Improvisational Arts aggregate was conceived, and these three sessions afford the chance to compare their interactions at pivotal moments of a ten-year period. Though this trio performance with the internationally recognized German bassist is the only documentation of that group, he is clearly a kindred spirit, geographic concerns thrown to the winds as three veterans compose in, for and beyond each moment. The live trio set, ushered in by Kowald’s resonant pizzicato and an invocation from Fielder’s high hat, bristles with sublimated and titanic energy, roaring and surging with oceanic force only to be pulled back, the ebbs showing no diminution of spirit but thriving on subtlety. Listen, during his solo, to the supple but nearly silent descending polyrhythmic spirals and timbral thrusts Kowald floats over Fielder’s delicate brush work. Jordan’s reentrance, after Kowald builds his solo to an inter-register frenzy, is one of the concert’s highlights, saxophone and bass darting and weaving, overlapping, diving headlong into a spicy blend of neo -Schoenbergian pan tonality and “new thing” cries of freedom that will set the coldest heart ablaze, Fielder’s percussion adding layers of transcultural resonance. — Marc Medwin Continue reading

Peter Kowald | Off The Road | a movie directed by Laurence Petit-Jouvet | RogueArt Jazz

The German bassist Peter Kowald (1944-2002) was one of the major figures of Free Improvised Music. The film OFF THE ROAD was made on and around his extended tour of the USA in 2000. A journey around America in an old Chevrolet Caprice, the film is a “free improvised road movie” featuring encounters with many of the great names of Free Music, set against the background of “Off The Road” America. Continue reading

Marco Eneidi | Peter Kowald | Damon Smith | Spirit | Ghetto Calypso | Not Two Records

Posthumous Peter Kowald releases keep coming down the pike and this one looks very promising on paper. The first three surnames on the roll call require no introduction to regular Bags readers. The identity and credentials of Spirit are probably another matter. Patterning a sparse style that draws on both New Thing and European Improv customs, his light pattering touch sometimes feels a bit flimsy and transparent, particularly during the ensemble’s higher density moments. Fortunately, in a group like this one with two strong-willed bassists vying and colluding, it’s a strategy that complements rather than hinders. His brief solo drum foray “Obo” suggests time spent shedding to the sounds of Don Moye and Denis Charles, and like both he’s prone to gruff vocal commentary in conjunction with his stick play. Pale shades of John Stevens also arise in the pointillist side of Spirit’s approach, though I’m not completely sold on his cachet as a contender. — Derek Taylor Continue reading