Part of bassist Kowald's 2000 US tour of solo and performances with local musicians, here with alto player Tsahar and drum legend Rashied Ali in a brilliant encounter.
Tsahar, Assif / Rashied Ali / Peter Kowald
Deals, Ideas and Ideals
Label: Hopscotch Records
Released in: USA
"In the spring of 2000 German bassist Peter Kowald attempted the seemingly impossible and in the process made history. He commenced on a three-month concert tour of the United States starting in Florida, ranging up the East Coast, criss-crossing the Midwest, hitting the west coast and doubling back for a final string of dates in the east. Along the way he played approximately 50 shows, most beginning with a solo set and concluding with a cooperative performance with local musicians. Numerous ad hoc aggregations resulted and the bassist's legendary talents combined with those of American improvisers of nearly every persuasion. Taped at the termination of the tour the studio sessions that resulted in this disc are a colorful capstone.
On the surface Ali, Kowald and Tsahar may not seem like the most complimentary combination. Their music together however suggests that the teaming, while brief, was something of a stroke of genius. Each man is masterfully versed in the vernacular of free jazz, but surprisingly much of the time this date has more in common sonically with Sonny Rollins precedent setting Village Vanguard trios of 1957 than it does Ayler's Spiritual Unity unit with Gary Peacock and Sunny Murray. The opening the "Rap" works off a thematic center comprised of tight melodic cords, which Tsahar seems to delight in unraveling. Kowald constrains himself mainly to pulse keeping and Ali's traps are awash in coruscating rhythms. "Isotopes" opens with Kowald's precision bow slicing ruddy streaks in a descending harmonic funnel. Tsahar's throaty bass clarinet makes a rare and welcome appearance soon after bubbling up in a viscous show of emotion over Ali's sparse fills before Kowald's acerbic bow takes things out.
Ali is first up on "Freedom Train" trafficking in authoritative polyrhythms that allow slippery purchase for Tsahar's tenacious tenor. Kowald's speed walking pizzicato line is a little under-recorded this time out, but a tacky pulse is maintained. Confident that the rhythmic end of things is shored up Tsahar empties his lungs and lets fly with a steady stream of striated sound sheets. This is one transom that isn't going to be rerouted from its appointed arrival at emancipation. Ali's drums also preface the title piece, a track that serves a showcase for all three players as soloists, prior to a unison close. "Walking Shadows" flirts with Tuvan throat singing over a resonating drone pattern of Kowald's strings.
Even though this trio had only a fleeting time together, the music created is timeless, testament to the abilities of the players both as individuals and collectively. The likelihood of a reunion is perhaps unlikely. But as improvised music continually reminds, anything is possible and there's no doubt that these three would have volumes more to say together if given the opportunity."-Derek Taylor
• Show Bio for Peter Kowald
"Born 1944 in Germany, died 21 September 2002 New York City; double bass, voice, tuba.
Peter Brötzmann (Corbett, 1994) recounted that 'there was this young guy trying to play the bass, who was Mr Kowald, at that time seventeen years old. Peter lived with his parents. I had my little studio, so he was always hanging out at my place. But he had to be at home at 10.00, he was drinking milk. But we changed that, very soon. His parents were always very angry with me, because he never showed up at home anymore, he dropped studies of ancient languages, Greek and all that.' By this time (1962) Peter Kowald had been playing bass for two years and, with different drummers the two Peters were playing Mingus, Ornette, and Miles Davis things as well as listening to Coltrane, Stockhausen, Cage et al. Kowald was part of the European tour undertaken by the Carla Bley/Michael Mantler band in 1966 (also featuring Brötzmann) and then came work with other German musicians, membership of the Globe Unity Orchestra and the first recordings: Globe Unity, For Adolphe Sax and Summer 1967, recorded during a brief vacation in London. In particular, Evan Parker credits this visit to London for his invitation to play in the Pierre Favre/Irene Schweizer quartet and his subsequent longstanding involvement with German (and other European) musicians. Kowald's work with Brötzmann continued - on and off - on record at least, to the time of Kowald's death and included the Cooperative Trio with Andrew Cyrille, a duo on the Duos project and a recent mix of free jazz, hip-hop and rap.
Peter Kowald was a member of Globe Unity Orchestra for 12 years (1966 to 1978) and for much of this time played less of a side-man role and more of an equal partner - for example, conducting the band - with the person to whom the group has become most associated, Alex von Schlippenbach. His influence is particularly noticeable on Jahrmarkt/Local fair where the two sides of composition are by Kowald (as is the second side of Live in Wuppertal and he is also credited, along with Paul Lovens as 'producing' the record, presumably sorting out the sprawling theatricality and poor sound into two 'meaningful' fragments. In his notes to 20th anniversary, Schlippenbach emphasises the importance of Kowald in creating a programme that became a lot more 'colourful'; while further pointing out that he and Kowald gradually drifted further apart 'until one fine evening after lengthy discussions which resulted in a fight in a pub in Wuppertal, this chapter also closed'. However, before this ending, from 1973 to 1978, Kowald also worked with the Schlippenbach trio (Schlippenbach/ Parker/Paul Lovens), turning it for much of this time into a regular quartet.
Throughout his career, Peter Kowald worked with a wide variety of improvising musicians worldwide and in many considered and unusual situations. He recorded bass duets with Barry Guy, Barre Phillips, Peter Jacquemyn, Maarten Altena, Damon Smith and William Parker, released two solo bass recordings, and had regular groups with Leo Smith and Günter Sommer; with Joëlle Léandre and dancer Anne Martin (Trio Tartini); with dancers Cheryl Banks and Arnette de Mille and cellist Muneer Abdul Fataah (Music and Movement Improvisation); a trio with pianist Curtis Clark; a trio with Canadian alto saxophonist Yves Charuest and Louis Moholo; and Principle Life with Jeanne Lee, Klaus Hovman, and Marilyn Mazur. During the period 1980 to 1985 he was a member of the London Jazz Composers' Orchestra. He has spent periods in the US and in Japan and recorded three duo LPs (two CDs) with US, European and Japanese musicians. He also lived in Greece and similarly played and recorded with the Greek musicians Floros Floridis and Ilias Papadopoulos. By contrast, the 12 months May 1994 to May 1995 was designated Kowald's 'Year at home' project which comprised a mixture of solo works - out of which, to some extent, the last solo CD grew (Was da ist) - and group performances.
In addition, Peter Kowald collaborated extensively with poets and artists and with the dancers Gerlinde Lambeck, Anne Martin, Tadashi Endo, Patsy Parker, Maria Mitchell, Sally Silvers, Cherly Banks, Arnette de Mille, Sayonara Pereira, and Kazuo Ohno. Specific works included Die klage der kaiserin (1989) with Pina Bausch, Short pieces (since 1989) with Jean Sasportes, The spirit of adventure (1990) with Anastasia Lyra, Wasser in der hand (1990/91) with Christine Brunel, and Futan no sentaku/The burden of choice (1990/91) with Min Tanaka and Butch Morris."-European Free Improv (http://www.efi.group.shef.ac.uk/mkowald.html)
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Label: Hopscotch Records
Catalog ID: Hop 06
Squidco Product Code: 11916
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Recorded and mastered by Rob McCabe at Survival Studio NYC on May 23, 24, 2000.
Rashied Ali -drums
Peter Kowald -bass
Assif Tsahar -tenor sax, bass clarinet
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1. The Rap 12:14
2. Isotopes 7:34
3. Freedom Train 6:29
4. Hereafter 6:47
5. Currents 5:58
6. Deals, Ideas & Ideals 11:29
7. Walking Shadows 6:41