Pete Cosey, 1943-2012

Blues, R&B, funk and jazz guitarist Pete Cosey, known for his late-1960s session work at Chess Records and for his mid-1970s work with Miles Davis, died May 30, 2012. Cosey was 68.

At Chess Records in Chicago in the ’60s, Cosey was a session vet with a distinctive guitar voice who played on records by Etta James, Howlin’ Wolf, Fontella Bass, Muddy Waters and others. He participated in Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and was also an early member of the Pharaohs along with future Earth, Wind & Fire members Maurice White and Louis Satterfield.

Cosey is perhaps best known for his 1973-1975 stint backing Miles Davis, contributing groundbreaking jazz-fusion guitar work and blistering Hendrix-like soloing to albums Get Up With It (1974), Dark Magus (recorded 1974; released in Japan in 1977), Agharta (1975) and Pangaea (1975).

Post-Miles, Cosey played sessions and live performances more sporadically, contributing work to albums by Herbie Hancock and Akira Sakata and replacing Bill Frisell in New York jazz fusion trio Power Tools in 1987. He appeared in an episode of filmmaker martin Scorsese’s 2003 historical documentary series The Blues, and has been cited as a seminal influence by contemporary guitarists such as Henry Kaiser and Vernon Reid.

Cosey is seen in the clip below with the Miles Davis Group in a July 1973 appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival:


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