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Peter Kowald: 1944-2002
Peter Kowald

Born: April 21, 1944 in Masserberg, Germany
Died: September 21, 2002 in New York City, New York

Peter Kowald

Copyright © 2002 


The following statement was released by Patricia Parker, wife of William Parker, in whose home Peter Kowald passed away:

Peter died of a heart attack at the home of Patricia and William Parker after playing a concert in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at B.T.M. with Masahiko Kono, Tatsuya Nakatani and Kazuhisa Uchihashi. He asked to be taken to my house and I was about to take him to the hospital when he had the attack and died. Emergency workers tried to save him working intensely for 45 minutes.

Peter Kowald distinguished himself as one of the leading players of the free school style of improvising. He was well known and respected on both sides of the Atlantic both in his native Germany and in his adopted home of New York City by musicians and fans alike.

He made numerous recordings for the German FMP label with his long time collaborators Peter Brotzman and Alxeander von Schlippenbach. From 1973 to 1978 he was the principal bassist for the Globe Unity Orchestra. Kowald participated in a wide variety of collaborations, working with dancers, poets and artists, in addition to all of the musicians he worked with.

Kowald recorded many duos with European, Japanese and U.S. musicians, including bass duets with Barre Phillips, Joëlle Léandre and Barry Guy. While recording in groups, featuring Greek musicians Floros Floridis and Ilias Papadopoulos during his residence in Greece. He also released solo bass recordings - the most recent being Was Da Ist, resulting from a self-proclaimed year at home, ending in May 1995.

Kowald also performed in groups with Fred Anderson, Wadada Leo Smith, and Gunter Sommer. In 2000, he went on a solo tour of the U.S., traveling by station wagon.

Since settling in New York, Peter established himself with many of the important players on the Downtown scene, including bassist/composer William Parker and many others of note. During this years Vision Fest in New York City Peter maintained a ubiquitous presence both as a performer, while also working the food stand.

As recently as Wednesday (9/18/02) of this week he performed with great intensity with the ensemble of saxophonist Blaise Siwula, the drummer Jeff Arnal and the guitarist Dom Minasi. On Sunday (9/22/02) he was scheduled to perform with his "Last Global Village" ensemble at CBGBs Lounge Free Style Events Series.

He was a lovely and generous spirit who will be missed by his many fans.

JJA members are invited to submit a full obituary or appreciation.

Thanks to Jazz Promo Services <>

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With 1 reader comment, posted August 15, 2004