Duos: Europa America Japan

Peter Kowald

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Duos: Europa America Japan Review

by Thom Jurek

This outrageous and maddening collection of Peter Kowald's duets showcases, far more than the truly amazing talents of so many of his collaborators, his own striking diversity of approach to his instrument and the diversity of his range -- even within the seemingly unrestricted realm of "free improvisation." Note first his long, shape-shifting, largely tonal duet with Seizan Matsuda's shakuhachi flute and its contrast to the piece with Evan Parker immediately following, where texture, nuance, and strangulated, angular sound wind soprano saxophone and bowed bass together as one multi-pitched atonal skronk. Perhaps the most beautiful -- if unsettling -- piece on the disc is Kowald's bowed duet with Diamanda Galas, appearing as a collaborator for the first time since her album-long rock duet with John Paul Jones. Here, on "Voice I," Galas gets to sing -- using her full, four octave range -- against the sonorities created by the polytonalities of the frenetically bowed bass. But if this weren't enough, the late Tom Cora's contribution on cello creates an intertextuality of strings and effects that moves beyond what is lingual or expressible without those two instruments in your hands. The percussion works with Andrew Cyrille and Han Bennink are studies in the texture of intensity, making the rhythmic palette of the bass so wide and its structure -- as pushed by Kowald -- so taxed to its physical limits that the listener is left breathless. If not beautiful, the most musically forward selection is the duet with Irène Schweizer, where single notes and minor chords are augmented with major sevenths and played over by Kowald pizzicato. It's jazz to be sure, but this is more a spontaneous composition than an improvisation; we can hear Schweizer and Kowald engaging each other on a modal level and creating the space where interval and overtone overlap. In sum, this duet set won't be everybody's cup of tea, and some of these pieces just plain don't work. No matter. Kowald proves himself here to be a musician first and an improviser second. His restlessness is revealed and his emotional and technical accomplishments are duly noted.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Peter Kowald feat: Joëlle Léandre 03:51 Amazon
2 Peter Kowald feat: Seizan Matsuda 04:39 Amazon
3 Peter Kowald feat: Evan Parker 03:19 Amazon
4 Peter Kowald feat: Diamanda Galás 04:45 Amazon
5 Peter Kowald feat: Conrad Bauer 04:04 Amazon
6 Peter Kowald feat: Tom Cora 02:19 Amazon
7 Peter Kowald feat: Andrew Cyrille 05:23 Amazon
8 Peter Kowald 04:49 Amazon
9 Peter Kowald feat: Akira Sakata 03:13 Amazon
10 Peter Kowald feat: Masahiko Kono 03:24 Amazon
11 Peter Kowald 02:31 Amazon
12 Peter Kowald feat: Tadao Sawaï 04:19 Amazon
13 Peter Kowald feat: Derek Bailey 02:58 Amazon
14 Peter Kowald feat: Floros Floridis 04:34 Amazon
15 Peter Kowald feat: Han Bennink 03:14 Amazon
16 Peter Kowald feat: Jeanne Lee 03:48 Amazon
17 Peter Kowald feat: Keiki Midorikawa 04:08 Amazon
18 Peter Kowald feat: Junko Handa 05:59 Amazon
19 Peter Kowald feat: Danny Davis 01:57 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick