George Lewis

Musician/Composer/Scholar

George E. Lewis

November 12, 2010, 7:30 pm

Mandel Hall 1131 E. 57th Street

“In addition to being a composer-trombonist of exceptional ability, technique, style, and inspiration, Lewis has become an artist whose paintbrush is software, but whose medium is a relatively unfamiliar one, that of computer-human interaction in improvisation.” — David L. Wessel, Director, Center for New Music and Audio Technology (CNMAT), University of California at Berkeley

Composer, trombonist, and Columbia University scholar George Lewis returns home to Chicago for an evening of music and conversation that explores the relationship between humans and machines, musicians and their instruments, improvisation, social responsibility, and agency with the AACM’s Great Black Music Ensemble, premier European free jazz pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach and Arnold I. Davidson, the Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago.

Lewis’s work merges experimental electronic music and interactive computer programs — most notably his software called ‘Voyager’, which “listens to” and reacts to live performers. The Chicago native and Yale philosophy graduate is the recipient of a 2002 MacArthur Fellowship, an Alpert Award in the Arts (1999), and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. His oral history is archived in Yale University’s collection of “Major Figures in American Music,” and his published articles on music, experimental video, visual art, and cultural studies have appeared in numerous scholarly journals and edited volumes. Lewis has been a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971 and is a professor at Columbia University.

Read

TABLEAU Conversation with Arnold Davidson
http://tableau.uchicago.edu/articles/2010/05/conversation-arnold-davidson

George E. Lewis — The Story’s Being Told, June 1, 2010
http://www.newmusicbox.org/article.nmbx?id=6409

In conversation with George Lewis by Ted Panken
http://www.jazz.com/features-and-interviews/2009/12/11/in-conversation-with-george-lewis

“I improvise, therefore I am” by Elizabeth Station
http://uchiblogo.uchicago.edu/archives/2010/10/i_improvise_the.html

Watch

Arnold Davidson: “Improvisation as Ethical Form” (from Improvisation and Ethics: A Conversation, Jazz Studies Online)
http://jazzstudiesonline.org/?q=node/961

George E Lewis and Arnold I. Davidson: “Improvisation as a Way of Life: Time, Form, Technology, Ethics” (American Academy in Rome, June 3, 2010)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYPIPllQzyc

The AACM Great Black Music Ensemble in performance: February 16, 2008, Festival Sons d’Hiver, Paris region, Douglas Ewart (soloist), Mwata Bowden, Matana Roberts, saxophones, clarinets; Nicole Mitchell, flute, voice; Edwin Daugherty, alto saxophone; Edward House, tenor saxophone; Leon Q Allen, Rasul Siddik, Jerome Croswell, trumpets; Isaiah Jackson, trombone; Dee Alexander, Taalib-din Ziyad, Saalik Ziyad, voices; Ann Ward, voice, piano; Khari B, spoken word; Tomeka Reed, cello; Junius Paul, Dawi Williams, Leonard Jones, basses; Art “Turk” Burton, percussion; Dushun Mosley, Reggie Nicholson, drums and percussion; Mary Oliver, violin; Miya Masaoka, koto; George Lewis, Mwata Bowden, conductors

AACM-GBME performance at he Sons d’Hiver Music Festival, Paris, 2008 from Dara Epison on Vimeo.

Lewis and von Schlippenbach in Rehearsal (from NIME-06, the sixth international conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression, IRCAM, Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique, Paris, June 2006)

George Lewis and Alexander von Schlippenbach in Rehearsal from Dara Epison on Vimeo.

AACM-GBME performance at he Sons d’Hiver Music Festival, Paris, 2008 from Dara Epison on Vimeo.

Listen

Lewis and Voyager (from Voyager, George Lewis — Trombone, Roscoe Mitchell — Alto and Soprano Saxophone, Recorded February 6 1993 in Alfred Hertz Hall, UC-Berkeley)
http://ubu.artmob.ca/sound/lewis_george/voyager/lewis_george-voyager-08-Voyager_Duo_8.mp3

George E. Lewis is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University. The Chicago native and Yale philosophy graduate is the recipient of a 2002 MacArthur Fellowship, an Alpert Award in the Arts (1999), and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Lewis studied composition with Muhal Richard Abrams at the AACM School of Music, and trombone with Dean Hey. A member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971, Lewis’s work as composer, improvisor, performer and interpreter explores electronic and computer music, computer-based multimedia installations, text-sound works, and notated and improvisative forms, and is documented on more than 130 recordings. His oral history is archived in Yale University’s collection of “Major Figures in American Music,” and his published articles on music, experimental video, visual art, and cultural studies have appeared in numerous scholarly journals and edited volumes. His widely acclaimed book, A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music (University of Chicago Press, 2008) is a recipient of the American Book Award (2009), the American Musicological Society’s Music in American Culture Award (2009), and an Award for Excellence in Recorded Sound Research from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (2009).

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AACM Great Black Music Ensemble
The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), founded in Chicago in 1965, has played an unusually prominent role in the development of American experimental music. Internationally renowned for unparalleled contributions to postmodern musical creativity for the past forty years, the musical influence of the AACM has extended across borders of genre and musical practice. AACM musicians have developed new and influential ideas about timbre, sound, collectivity, extended technique and instrumentation, intermedia, the relationship of improvisation to composition, computer music technologies, invented acoustic instruments, and kinetic sculptures.

The AACM Great Black Music Ensemble presents the very best of this “tradition of the new.” Based in Chicago and led by composer/clarinetist Mwata Bowden, the Great Black Music Ensemble features an array of the most visionary artists of improvisation and creative music, performing works from the great pool of AACM composers, including Douglas R. Ewart, Ernest Dawkins, Mwata Bowden, Nicole Mitchell, and guest composer/performer George Lewis. The Ensemble has been described as offering “the excitement of new sounds and rhythms, while incorporating the traditions of black music including funk, reggae, bebop, swing, and more.”

Alexander von Schlippenbach
One of Europe’s premier free jazz bandleaders, pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach’s music mixes free and contemporary classical elements, with his slashing solos often forming the link between the two in his compositions. Schlippenbach began taking lessons at eight, and studied at the Staatliche Hochschule for Musik in Cologne with composers Bernd Alois Zimmermann and Rudolf Petzold. He played with Gunter Hampel in 1963, and was in Manfred Schoof’s quintet from 1964 to 1967. Schlippenbach began heading various bands after 1967, among them his 1970 trio with Evan Parker and Paul Lovens and a duo with Sven-Ake Johansson which they co-formed in 1976.

Schlippenbach formed The Globe Unity Orchestra in 1966 to perform the piece “Globe Unity,” which had been commissioned by the Berliner Jazztage. He remained involved with the orchestra into the ’80s. In the late ’80s, he formed the Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, which has featured a number of esteemed European avant-garde musicians, including Evan Parker, Paul Lovens, Kenny Wheeler, Misha Mengelberg and Aki Takase. During the 90`s he did performances with Tony Oxley, Sam Rivers and Aki Takase, and in 1999 started performance and radio recording of Thelonious Monks complete works, (all the compositions) with Rudi Mahall and his group. He has been the recipient of the Kunstpreis der Stadt Berlin (1976), Schallplattenpreise der UDJ (1980/1981), the Albert Mangelsdorff Preis (1994) and the German Record Critics Award for “Monk’s Casino” (2005).

Arnold Davidson
Arnold I. Davidson is the Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Philosophy, the Department of Comparative Literature, the Committee on the Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, and the Divinity School. Executive Editor of Critical Inquiry, he is also a director of the France-Chicago Center. His major fields of research and teaching are the history of contemporary European philosophy, the history of moral and political philosophy, the history of the human sciences, and the history and philosophy of religion. He regularly teaches the history of political philosophy at the University of Pisa, and his main publications are in French and Italian, as well as in English. Most recently he has given the “Venetian Lectures” at the University of Venice on the ethics, politics, and aesthetics of improvisation, and has written the preface to the Italian edition of Derek Bailey’s book on improvisation.

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