342

Off the Road

Kurt Gottschalk By

Sign in to view read count
Peter Kowald
Off The Road
Rogue Art
2007



Pretty much anyone who ever met the German bassist Peter Kowald has a story to tell. His commitment to community, to creative spirit, seemed to provide him with a charmed life. Laurence Petit-Jouvet's 2001 documentary Off the Road doesn't get into the many stories get told about Kowald—it isn't quite a biopic—but it does serve as a window into the persona that, along with a deep understanding of communicating through music, made him the embodiment of the creative spirit.

Petit-Jouvet followed Kowald on an unbooked tour across the United States in 2000, two years before his untimely death at 58. The film—now available as a part of a three-disc set from the French label RogueArt—opens with Kowald buying a used car in New York and setting out across the southern states, to the West Coast and then to Chicago, meeting people and setting up ad hoc gigs en route. Needless to say there's plenty of great music along the way, meetings with Kidd Jordan, George Lewis, Rashied Ali, Pamela Z and many others. But the best parts of the film show Kowald without his bass: engaging a panhandler on the street, talking to people and learning about Martin Luther King and Native American culture, even seeming bemusedly curious about why his old station wagon broke down.

The 72-minute film doesn't include a lot of music, just passing scenes along the journey. But it's wisely packaged here with another Petite-Jouvet film from the same tour. Chicago Improvisations documents Kowald in the studio and at the Empty Bottle Festival. If the music is secondary in Off the Road, here the performances stand out against the brief interview segments. He's seen in trios with Fred Anderson and Hamid Drake and with Floros Floridis and Gunther "Baby" Sommer, nicely shot with multiple cameras and good quality sound, and in the studio playing solo and with Ken Vandermark. And if the savvy listener still seeks more sounds, the set comes with an audio CD, also recorded along the 2000 trail.


Production Notes: DVD 1: 72 min, color, in English, French subtittles; DVD 2: 83 min, color, in English, French subtittles; CD: William Parker/Peter Kowald duo; Kidd Jordan/Peter Kowald/Alvin Fielder trio; Peter Kowald solo; George Lewis/Peter Kowald duo; Anna Homler/Peter Kowald duo; Marco Eneidi/Eddie Gale/Peter Kowald/Donald Robinson quartet; Fred Anderson/Peter Kowald/Hamid Drake trio.


Shop

More Articles

Read Fathom Events Presents "The Grateful Dead Movie" DVD/Film Reviews Fathom Events Presents "The Grateful Dead Movie"
by Doug Collette
Published: April 30, 2017
Read I Called Him Morgan at Belfast Film Festival 2017 DVD/Film Reviews I Called Him Morgan at Belfast Film Festival 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 4, 2017
Read I Called Him Morgan by Kasper Collin DVD/Film Reviews I Called Him Morgan by Kasper Collin
by Christine Connallon
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Bill Frisell: A Portrait DVD/Film Reviews Bill Frisell: A Portrait
by John Kelman
Published: March 14, 2017
Read "The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years" DVD/Film Reviews The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years
by Doug Collette
Published: November 20, 2016
Read "The Life & Songs of Emmylou Harris" DVD/Film Reviews The Life & Songs of Emmylou Harris
by Doug Collette
Published: December 3, 2016
Read "Grateful Dead Meet Up at the Movies 5-11-2016" DVD/Film Reviews Grateful Dead Meet Up at the Movies 5-11-2016
by Doug Collette
Published: May 14, 2016
Read "I Called Him Morgan at Belfast Film Festival 2017" DVD/Film Reviews I Called Him Morgan at Belfast Film Festival 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 4, 2017
Read "The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi" DVD/Film Reviews The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi
by Marc Davis
Published: December 16, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!