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Bassist Peter Kowald’s musical activities during the riot years of ’66 to ’68 jump-started the next three decades of European free improvisation. From his contributions to the Peter Brotzmann Octet’s colossal 1968 classic, Machine Gun, to his involvement with England’s Spontaneous Music Ensemble and Germany’s Globe Unity Orchestra, Kowald’s earliest recordings defined the post-Coltrane-and-Ayler course of the jazz avant-garde. And Kowald has continued to push the new-music envelope, collaborating with everyone from “new thing” pianist Cecil Taylor to noise fiends Borbetomagus to nails-on-chalkboard screecher Diamanda Galas. His midnight performance with komungo player Jin Hi Kim, violinist Gunda Gottschalk, and guzheng player Xu Feng Xia at 1998’s Third Annual Vision Festival in New York earned him a standing ovation from an audience already worn out by a week’s worth of stellar jazz sets, so be sure to see Kowald when you’re wide awake at 8 p.m. at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 1054 31st St. NW. $7. (703) 243-3787. (Brent Burton)