George Lewis

born on 14/7/1952 in Chicago, IL, United States

George Lewis (trombonist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

George E. Lewis (born July 14, 1952) is a composer, electronic performer, installation artist, trombone player, and scholar in the fields of improvisation and experimental music.[1] He has been a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971, and is a pioneer of computer music.


Born in Chicago, Lewis graduated from Yale University in 1974 with a degree in philosophy. In the 1980s, he succeeded Rhys Chatham as the music director of The Kitchen.[2] Since 2004, he has served as a professor at Columbia University in New York City, having previously taught at the University of California, San Diego.[1] In 2002 Lewis received a MacArthur Fellowship.

In addition to his own recordings, he has recorded or performed with musicians including Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Roscoe Mitchell, Douglas Ewart, Laurie Anderson, Muhal Richard Abrams, Count Basie, Gil Evans, Nicole Mitchell, Karl E. H. Seigfried, Fred Anderson, Conny Bauer, Evan Parker, Bertram Turetzky, Marina Rosenfeld, Anthony Davis, David Behrman, David Murray, Derek Bailey, Frederic Rzewski, Han Bennink, Irene Schweizer, J.D. Parran, James Newton, Joel Ryan, Joëlle Léandre, Leroy Jenkins, Michel Portal, Misha Mengelberg, Miya Masaoka, Richard Teitelbaum, Sam Rivers, Steve Lacy and Wadada Leo Smith. He was also a sometime member of Musica Elettronica Viva, the Globe Unity Orchestra, and the ICP Orchestra (Instant Composer's Pool).[3]

Lewis has long been active in creating and performing with interactive computer systems, most notably his software called Voyager, which "listens to" and reacts to live performers. Between 1988 and 1990, Lewis collaborated with video artist Don Ritter to create performances of interactive music and interactive video controlled by Lewiss improvised trombone.[4] Lewis and Ritter performed at venues in North America and Europe, including Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, Verona Jazz Festival, Art Institute of Chicago, The Kitchen (NYC), New Music America 1989 (NYC), The Alternative Museum (NYC), A Space (Toronto), and the MIT Media Lab (Cambridge).

In 2008 Lewis published a book-length history of the AACM titled A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music (University of Chicago Press). The book received the 2009 American Book Award.


In 1992 Lewis collaborated with Canadian artist Stan Douglas on the video installation Hors-champs which was featured at documenta 9 in Kassel, Germany. The installation features Lewis in an improvisation of Albert Ayler's "Spirits Rejoice" with musicians Douglas Ewart, Kent Carter and Oliver Johnson.[5]

Lewis is featured extensively in Unyazi of the Bushveld (2005), a documentary about the first symposium of electronic music held in Africa, directed by Aryan Kaganof.

Lewis gave an invited keynote lecture and performance at NIME-06, the sixth international conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression, which was held at IRCAM, Paris, in June 2006.

In 2008 his work "Morning Blues for Yvan" was featured on the compilation album Crosstalk: American Speech Music (Bridge Records) produced by Mendi + Keith Obadike.


Portrait recordings

  • Solo Trombone Record (Sackville, 1976)
  • Shadowgraph (Black Saint, 1977)
  • Chicago Slow Dance (Lovely, 1977)
  • Homage to Charles Parker (Black Saint, 1979)
  • Voyager (Avant, 1993)
  • Changing with the Times (New World, 1996)
  • Endless Shout (Tzadik, 2000)
  • The Shadowgraph Series: Compositions for Creative Orchestra (Spool, 2003)
  • Sequel (for Lester Bowie) (Intakt, 2006)
  • ICI Ensemble & George Lewis (PAO, 2007)
  • Les Exercices Spirituels (Tzadik, 2011)


  • Elements of Surprise (1976) with Anthony Braxton
  • George Lewis - Douglas Ewart (Black Saint, 1979) with Douglas Ewart
  • Company, Fables (Incus, 1980) with Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, and Dave Holland
  • From Saxophone & Trombone (Incus, 1980) with Evan Parker
  • Yankees (Celluloid, 1983) with John Zorn and Bailey
  • Hook, Drift & Shuffle (Incus, 1985) with Parker, Barry Guy and Paul Lytton
  • Change of Season (Music of Herbie Nichols) with Steve Lacy, Han Bennink, Misja Mengelberg, Arjen Gorter (Soul Note, 1986)
  • News for Lulu (hat Hut, 1988) with Zorn and Bill Frisell
  • More News for Lulu (hat Hut, 1992; recorded 1989) with Zorn and Frisell
  • Duo (Donaueschingen) 1976 (hat Hut, 1994; recorded 1976) with Braxton
  • Slideride (hat Hut, 1994) with Ray Anderson, Craig Harris, and Gary Valente
  • Triangulation (9 Winds, 1996) with Vinny Golia and Bertram Turetzky
  • The Usual Turmoil and Other Duets (Music & Arts, 1998) with Miya Masaoka
  • Conversations (Incus, 1998) with Turetzky
  • The Storming of the Winter Palace (Intakt, 1988) with Irene Schweizer, Maggie Nicols, Joëlle Léandre, and Günter Sommer
  • Dutch Masters (Black Saint, 1991) with Steve Lacy, Han Bennink, Misja Mengelberg, Ernst Reyseger
  • Streaming (Pi Recordings, 2006) with Muhal Richard Abrams and Roscoe Mitchell
  • Transatlantic Visions (RogueArt, 2009) with Joëlle Léandre
  • Sour Mash (Innova Recordings, 2009) with Marina Rosenfeld
  • Metamorphic Rock (Iorram Records, 2009) with Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra
  • SoundDance (Muhal Richard Abrams with Fred Anderson and George Lewis (PI Recordings, 2011)

As performer

  • Roscoe Mitchell Quartet, Roscoe Mitchell Quartet (Sackville, 1975)
  • Anthony Braxton, Creative Orchestra Music 1976 (Arista, 1976)
  • Anthony Braxton, Dortmund (Quartet) 1976 (hatART, 1976 released 1991)
  • Anthony Braxton, The Montreux/Berlin Concerts (Arista, 1975-6)
  • Roscoe Mitchell, Nonaah (Nessa, 1977)
  • Barry Altschul, You Can't Name Your Own Tune (Muse, 1977)
  • Anthony Braxton, Quintet (Basel) 1977 (hatOLOGY, 1977, released 2000)
  • Roscoe Mitchell, L-R-G / The Maze / S II Examples (Nessa, 1978)
  • Fred Anderson, Another Place (Moers Music, 1979)
  • Jacques Bekaert, Summer Music 1970 (Lovely/Vital, 1979)
  • Roscoe Mitchell Creative Orchestra, Sketches from Bamboo (Moers, 1979)
  • Leo Smith Creative Orchestra, Budding of a Rose (Moers, 1979)
  • Muhal Richard Abrams, Spihumonesty (Black Saint, 1979)
  • Sam Rivers, Contrasts (ECM, 1979)
  • Leroy Jenkins, Space Minds, New Worlds, Survival of America (Tomato, 1979)
  • Muhal Richard Abrams, Mama and Daddy (Black Saint, 1980)
  • David Murray Octet, Ming (Black Saint, 1980)
  • John Zorn, Archery (Parachute, 1981)
  • Laurie Anderson, Big Science (Warner Brothers, 1981)
  • Anthony Davis/James Newton Quartet, Hidden Voices (India Navigation)
  • Anthony Davis, Episteme (Gramavision)
  • Anthony Davis, Variations in Dream Time (Gramavision)
  • Anthony Davis, Hemispheres (Gramavision)
  • Gil Evans, Live at the Public Theater, Vols 1&2 (Trio, 198182)
  • Material, Memory Serves (Celluloid, 1981)[6]
  • David Murray Octet, Home (Black Saint, 1982)
  • John Lindberg Trio, Give and Take (Black Saint, 1982)
  • Company Week 1982 with Derek Bailey and others (Incus, 1983)
  • Rhys Chatham, Factor X (Moers Music, 1983)
  • Anthony Braxton, Four Compositions (Quartet) 1983 (Black Saint, 1983)
  • Steve Lacy Seven, Prospectus (hat Hut, 1984)
  • Anthony Braxton, Four Compositions (Quartet) (Black Saint, 1985)
  • Steve Lacy Nine, Futurities (hat Hut, 1985)
  • Joelle Leandre, Les Douze Sons (NATO Records, 1985)
  • Ushio Torikai, Go Where? (Victor, 1986)
  • ICP Orchestra, ICP Plays Monk (1986)
  • Heiner Goebbels, Der Mann im Fahrstuhl (ECM, 1987)
  • ICP Orchestra, Bospaadje Konijnehol I (1986)
  • Richard Teitelbaum, Concerto Grosso (hat Hut, 1988)
  • Anthony Braxton, Ensemble (Victoriaville) 1988 (Victo, 1988 [1992])
  • Richard Teitelbaum, Cyberband (Moers Music, 1993)
  • Gil Evans Big Band, Lunar Eclypse (New Tone, 1993; recorded 1981)
  • Anthony Braxton, Creative Orchestra (Köln) 1978 (hat Hut, 1995; recorded 1978)
  • Bert Turetzky & Mike Wofford, Transition and Transformation (9 Winds)
  • Globe Unity Orchestra, 20th Anniversary (FMP, 1993; recorded 1986)
  • Richard Teitelbaum, Golem (Tzadik, 1995)
  • India Cooke, RedHanded (Music & Arts, 1996)
  • Roscoe Mitchell, Nine to Get Ready (ECM, 1997)
  • Steve Lacy Seven, Clichés (hat Hut, 1997; recorded 1992)
  • Steve Coleman, Genesis & The Opening of the Way (BMG/RCA Victor, 1997)
  • Evod Magek, Through Love to Freedom (Black Pot, 1998)
  • Miya Masaoka Orchestra, What Is the Difference Between Stripping and Playing the Violin? (Victo, 1998)
  • Anthony Braxton, News from the '70s (New Tone, 1999; recorded 1971-1976)
  • NOW Orchestra, WOWOW (Spool, 1999)
  • Globe Unity Orchestra, Globe Unity 40 Years (Intakt, 2007)
  • Musica Elettronica Viva, MEV 40 (New World, 2008)


Solo and chamber music

  • "Thistledown" (2012), for quartet
  • "The Will To Adorn" (2011), for large chamber ensemble
  • "Ikons" (2010), for octet
  • "Dancing in the Palace" (2009), for tenor voice and viola, with text by Donald Hall
  • "Signifying Riffs" (1998), for string quartet and percussion
  • "Ring Shout Ramble" (1998), for saxophone quartet
  • "Collage" (1995), for poet and chamber orchestra, with text by Quincy Troupe
  • "Endless Shout" (1994), for piano
  • "Toneburst" (1976) for three trombones


  • "Anthem" (2011), for chamber ensemble with electronics
  • "Les Exercices Spirituels" (2010) for eight instruments and computer sound spatialization
  • "Sour Mash" (2009), composition for vinyl turntablists, with Marina Rosenfeld
  • "Hello Mary Lou" (2007) for chamber ensemble and live electronics
  • "Crazy Quilt" (2002), for infrared-controlled "virtual percussion" and four percussionists
  • "North Star Boogaloo" (1996), for percussionist and computer, with text by Quincy Troupe
  • "Virtual Discourse" (1993), composition for infrared-controlled "virtual percussion" and four percussionists
  • "Nightmare At The Best Western" (1992), for baritone voice and six instruments
  • "Atlantic" (1978), for amplified trombones with resonant filters


  • "Ikons" (2010), interactive sound sculpture, with Eric Metcalfe
  • "Travelogue" (2009), sound installation
  • "Rio Negro II" (2007), robotic-acoustic sound installation, with Douglas Ewart and Douglas Irving Repetto.
  • "Information Station No. 1" (2000), multi-screen videosonic interactive installation for the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant, San Diego, Calif.
  • "Rio Negro" (1992), robotic-acoustic sound-sculpture installation, with Douglas Ewart
  • "A Map of the Known World" (1987), interactive mbira-driven audiovisual installation, with David Behrman
  • "Mbirascope/Algorithme et kalimba" (1985), interactive mbira-driven audiovisual installation, with David Behrman

Interactive computer music

  • "Interactive Duo" (2007), for interactive computer-driven piano and human instrumentalist
  • "Interactive Trio" (2007), for interactive computer-driven piano, human pianist, and additional instrumentalist
  • "Virtual Concerto" (2004), for improvising computer piano soloist and orchestra
  • "Voyager" (1987), for improvising soloist and interactive virtual orchestra"
  • "Rainbow Family" (1984), for soloists with multiple interactive computer systems
  • "Chamber Music for Humans and Non-Humans" (1980), for micro-computer and improvising musician
  • "The KIM and I" (1979), for micro-computer and improvising musician

Music Theatre

  • "The Empty Chair" (1986), computer-driven videosonic music theatre work
  • "Changing With The Times" (1991), radiophonic/music theatre work

Creative orchestra

  • "Triangle" (2009)
  • "Something Like Fred" (2009)
  • "Fractals" (2007)
  • "Angry Bird" (2007)
  • "Shuffle" (2007)
  • "The Chicken Skin II" (2007)
  • "Hello and Goodbye" (1976/2000)
  • "The Shadowgraph Series, 1-5" (197577)

Graphic and instructional scores

  • "Artificial Life 2007" (2007), composition for improvisors with open instrumentation
  • "Sequel" (2004), for eight electro-acoustic performers
  • "Blues" (1979), graphic score for four instruments
  • "Homage to Charles Parker" (1979), for improvisors and electronics
  • "Chicago Slow Dance" (1977), for electro-acoustic ensemble
  • "The Imaginary Suite" (1977), two movements for tape, live electronics, and instruments
  • "Monads" (1977), graphic score for any instrumentation

Books and Essays

  • Lewis, George E. Americanist Musicology and Nomadic Noise. Journal of the American Musicological Society, Vol. 64, No. 3 (Fall 2011), pp. 69195.
  • Lewis, George E. "Interactivity and Improvisation". In Dean, Roger T., ed. The Oxford Handbook of Computer Music. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press (2009), 457-66.
  • Lewis, George E. A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.
  • Lewis, George E. "The Virtual Discourses of Pamela Z". In Hassan, Salah M., and Cheryl Finley, eds. Diaspora, Memory, Place: David Hammons, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Pamela Z. Munich: Prestel (2008), 266-81.
  • Lewis, George E., "Foreword: After Afrofuturism. Journal of the Society for American Music, Volume 2, Number 2, pp. 13953 (2008).
  • Lewis, George E., "Stan Douglas's Suspiria: Genealogies of Recombinant Narrativity." In Stan Douglas, Past Imperfect: Works 1986-2007. Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 42-53 (2008).
  • Lewis, George E., "Improvising Tomorrow's Bodies: The Politics of Transduction." E-misférica, Vol. 4.2, November 2007.
  • Lewis, George E., "Mobilitas Animi: Improvising Technologies, Intending Chance." Parallax, Vol. 13, No. 4, (2007), 108122.
  • Lewis, George E., "Living with Creative Machines: An Improvisor Reflects." In Anna Everett and Amber J. Wallace, eds. AfroGEEKS: Beyond the Digital Divide. Santa Barbara: Center for Black Studies Research, 2007, 83-99.
  • Lewis, George E. "Live Algorithms and the Future of Music." CT Watch Quarterly, May 2007.
  • Lewis, George E. Improvisation and the Orchestra: A Composer Reflects. Contemporary Music Review, Vol. 25, Nos. 5/6, October/December 2006, pp. 42934.
  • Lewis, George E. "The Secret Love between Interactivity and Improvisation, or Missing in Interaction: A Prehistory of Computer Interactivity". In Fähndrich, Walter, ed. Improvisation V: 14 Beiträge. Winterthur: Amadeus (2003), 193-203.
  • Lewis, George E. 2004. "Gittin' to Know Y'all: Improvised Music, Interculturalism and the Racial Imagination". Critical Studies in Improvisation (peer-reviewed online journal), Vol. 1, No. 1, ISSN 1712-0624,
  • Lewis, George E. 2004. "Leben mit kreativen Maschinen: Reflexionen eines improvisierenden Musikers". In Knauer, Wolfram, ed. Improvisieren: Darmstädter Beiträge zur Jazzforschung, Band 8. Hofheim: Wolke Verlag, 123-144.
  • Lewis, George. 2004. Afterword to "Improvised Music After 1950": The Changing Same. In Fischlin, Daniel, and Ajay Heble, eds. The Other Side of Nowhere: Jazz, Improvisation, and Communities in Dialogue. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 163-72.
  • Lewis, George E., Too Many Notes: Computers, complexity and culture in Voyager. Leonardo Music Journal 10, 2000, 33-39. Reprinted in Everett, Anna, and John T. Caldwell, eds. 2003. New Media: Theories and Practices of Intertextuality. New York and London: Routledge, 93-106.
  • Lewis, George, Teaching Improvised Music: An Ethnographic Memoir. In Zorn, John, ed. Arcana: Musicians on Music. New York: Granary Books (2000), 78-109.
  • Lewis, George, "Improvised Music After 1950: Afrological and Eurological Perspectives." Black Music Research Journal, vol. 16, No.1, Spring 1996, 91-122. Excerpted in Cox, Christoph, and Daniel Warner. 2004. Audio Culture: Readings In Modern Music. New York: Continuum, 272-86.


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  5. Gale, Peggy (1996). "Stan Douglas: Evening and others." VIDEO Re/VIEW: The (best) Source for Critical Writings on Canadian Artists' Video. Eds. Peggy Gale and Lisa Steele. Toronto: Art Metropole. p. 363. ISBN 0-920956-37-8
  6. [1]


  • A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music (University of Chicago Press, 2008) "Four Decades of Music That Redefined Free", New York Times May 2, 2008 [2]
  • Monaghan, Peter. Thoroughly Modern Music (review of A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music by George E. Lewis). Chronicle of Higher Education, November 14, 2008, 113117.
  • Bruno, Franklin J. Review of A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music by George E. Lewis. The Nation, February 2, 2009, 34, 36.
  • Zorn, John, ed. (2000). Arcana: Musicians on Music. New York: Granary Books/Hips Road. ISBN 1-887123-27-X.
  • Interview with George Lewis in Christian Broecking: Jeder Ton eine Rettungsstation, Verbrecher, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-935843-85-0
  • Massarenti, Armando. Vive bene chi sa improvvisare (George Lewis and philosopher Arnold I. Davidson). Il Sole 24 Ore (Italy), 5 Luglio 2009.
  • Zenni, Stefano. Per il pensiero innovativo (interview with George Lewis). Il Giornale della Musica, January 2009

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: George Lewis (trombonist)

  • Audio Recordings of WCUW Jazz Festivals - Jazz History Database
  • George Lewis faculty profile from Columbia University site
  • George Lewis on the Voyager interactive computer system.
  • Casserley, Lawrence. Person to... person? Interview with George Lewis, discussing computer music and other topics, including improvisation and Voyager.
  • Golden, Barbara. Conversation with George Lewis. eContact! 12.2 Interviews (2) (April 2010). Montréal: CEC.
This page was last modified 07.05.2014 01:15:23

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