This CD, pairing German master, Peter Kowald and the fiery young Bay Area bassist, Damon Smith, is an extraordinary example of what can happen when two improvisers are also virtuoso listeners. The linear clarity, the high spirited sonic explorations, the overall conversational approach and the unrelenting forward motion add up to an exciting listening experience. One of the remarkable things is that this dynamic duo accomplishes this without the usual ” you play arco and I’ll play pizzicato” approach. This is testimony to their acute hearing and ability to make split-second decisions which result in maintaining their individual lines. This is no easy feat! Kowald employs his unique sonic vocabulary and Smith deftly compliments him with his “encyclopedic” sound world, all the while making music that is unrelenting rhythmically. There is no ebb and flow . . . it’s simple straight ahead. There is no “tug of war” as we find in some improvising duos, but a highly spirited conversational approach that is exhilarating and most engaging.
Don’t miss this unique listening experience. It is creative for the new millennium, par excellence!
Del Mar, April 2001
Peter Kowald: Balance and Paradox
When I first heard Kowald it was like a hand reaching across the globe and redirecting my life. Mingus intimidated me, I was listening to Mingus a lot and had decided to stay on bass guitar, I felt he had done it all. Then, Peter presented the endless possibilities of the double bass with an amazing balance of clarity and mystery. More than what he plays, it’s the balance between how much he holds onto and how much he gives up in the moment, that makes his music more profound and powerful than anyone I have ever heard play the instrument. He can blend with musicians from Tuva, Greece, Japan, or New Orleans without ever giving up his intense character. And of course, what he plays would be another essay! Playing with him for the first time here, was the most important thing in my life to date, but, with his masterful ears, experience, and his generous spirit, it was also the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Thanks, Peter!
Oakland, April 2001
Yes, we obviously do mirror each other. Damon has been listening closely to what I have been doing (thank you, Damon), has taken from it, fine. I always thought that we never can give back much to the people we have been taking from (and I have taken from many, bassplayers and other, learning, sometimes trying to copy, which never really worked), then others take from you and it all goes around in bigger circles, that’s beautiful. Recently, I saw a drawing of Man Ray, “Broken Mirrors” 1932, the time of Cubism having been around for a while. I remembered the paintings (on flat canvas) seeing the subjects – often guitars – from different sides and angles at the same time. Broken mirrors don’t reflect things with a straight or plane view, but rather in particles, from various angles, out of different positions and in different directions . . . and this is what we try to do with sounds, rhythms, particles of melody, all kinds of musical materials. The idea of dust/no dust on mirrors comes out of the Zen teachings, that is that. When Damon and I met in these days in April 2000 and played, it didn’t feel like too much dust being around. I mean that not only because this music is always freshly made, but more even because it is just what it is, not more and not less. That, in this world of things lacking or been blown up so much, looks like a quite dustfree quality.
Anyway, the image of broken mirrors seems closer to what is around us now, than the image of mirrors with dust on them. So we say: “mirrors – broken but no dust”.
Wuppertal, April 2001
Produced by Damon Smith/Peter Kowald – Executive Producer Scott Herbert.
Cover drawing: Kowald.
design: Kowald and Jürgen Schäfer (for Arakawa)
released 02 March 2013
Peter Kowald, double bass; Damon Smith, double bass.
Recorded on 28 April 2000 at Gallery 2310 Oakland, California; this is one piece with an index point for convenience only.
Reflections on April 28th 2000:
Recorded on 3 May 2000 in Oakland, California
Front cover drawing (reproduced above) by Peter Kowald; design by Kowald and Jürgen Schäfer.