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« Next Stop: Mongolia (Canasta Heads East...Way East) Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - February 2012 »

Concert Wed Feb 01 2012

Ode to the Artificial Will to Flow In the Cave of Self-Inception

Lewis_conducting-1.jpg
George Lewis

The musical career of trombonist/composer/professor George Lewis looks very different depending on where you put your finger on the timeline. In the middle 1970s, he came onto the scene as a teenager in Anthony Braxton's first classic quartet, taking up the brass mantle from Kenny Wheeler. Wheeler's smoky, moody tone was a nice foil for Braxton's multi-directional compositional style of the time, but it also sounded sometimes like he had trouble with the fast charts. Not so Lewis, whose trombone lines dart and pivot, hummingbird-like, in the air around Braxton, speeding the group's development immeasurably. A few years later, Lewis' Homage to Charles Parker LP includes other unexpected elements, like Richard Teitelbaum's Moog synths and Lewis' own electronic processing on his trombone. Lewis' compositions at the time, like Braxton's, came from a personal, genre-less place, born just as much of jazz and improv as classical composition and experimental music forms. He was also one of the earliest jazz musicians to work regularly with computer-assisted composition and music forms.

Throughout the '80s, Lewis could be heard on loads of free improv recordings, including the News For Lulu records (with Bill Frisell and John Zorn), and Yankees (Zorn and Derek Bailey), his brass speeding through impromptu chord sequences one moment, squawking like authority figures in Peanuts cartoons the next. Though his recorded output never really slowed, Lewis spent more time in the coming decades developing computer-music software like the Voyager program, which creates sound shapes and reactions to live music inputs.

Since the mid-2000s, Lewis has taught at Columbia University in New York, and just a few years, he authored A Power Stronger Than Itself, a 700+ page behemoth chronicling the development of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), an organization founded in Chicago with the intent of fostering African-American musical creativity. The group, now passing 40 years of existence, is one of the most enduring musical organizations of the modern era.

This Sunday (yes, as in "Super Bowl _____"), The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) will present George Lewis & Friends at the Museum of Contemporary Art (220 E. Chicago Ave.) at 3 p.m. The program includes five pieces:

  • George Lewis (b. 1952): Artificial Life 2007 (2007)
  • Steve Lehman: Impossible Flow for flute, clarinet, horn, trombone, piano, bass, percussion, drum set (2011) CHICAGO PREMIERE
  • Nicole Mitchell: The Cave of Self-Inception for two flutes and percussion (2012) WORLD PREMIERE
  • Tyshawn Sorey (b.1980): Ode to Gust Burns for bassoon, piano, percussion, guitar and trombone (2012) WORLD PREMIERE
  • George Lewis: Will to Adorn, for ensemble (2011) CHICAGO PREMIERE

The event will also include time for the composers to discuss their pieces midway through.

Tickets are $28, $22 for MCA members. The program is scheduled to be 75 minutes, so yes, you'll still have time to get home and watch that kicking-throwing thing on TV, if you are so inclined.

 
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