The New York Times reports that renowned sideman Pete Cosey has sadly passed away from complications of surgery. Cosey worked for Chess records throughout the 1960s where he played guitar on a number of records for numerous high profile acts including Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Etta James. He also appeared on the top ten hit “Rescue Me” by Fontella Bass, but it was his stellar work in the ‘70s with Miles Davis’ band that he will be most fondly remembered for.
With a sound reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix, Cosey pushed boundaries with the electric guitar, often employing a barrage of effects pedals and unique methods of guitar tuning to create dexterously distorted waves of feedback. He contributed to some of Miles Davis’s most controversial and confrontational albums, such as Dark Magus, with a sound Davis himself described as “a deep African-American groove”.
A member of the Chicago based Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, a cooperative organization devoted to experimental improvisation, Cosey was relentlessly inventive and in the mid 2000s featured as a soloist on Burnt Sugar’s The Rites, an improvised version of Stravinsky’ Rites of Spring conducted by Butch Morris.
Passing away on May 30th at the age of 68, Pete Cosey leaves behind a legacy of experimentation and inspiration.