It is hard
to express our collective loss in Lester Bowie's passing. He
had an impact that will survive through his contemporaries and
their recordings. Here is an excerpt from a published biography.
1970s, Lester Bowie has been the preeminent trumpeter of the
jazz avant-garde -- one of the few trumpet players of his generation
to successfully and completely adopt the techniques of free
jazz. Indeed, Bowie has been the most successful in translating
the expressive demands of the music -- so well-suited to the
tonally pliant saxophone -- to the more difficult-to-manipulate
brass instrument. Like a saxophonist such as David Murray or
Eric Dolphy, Bowie invests his sound with a variety of timbral
effects; his work has a more vocal quality, compared with that
of most contemporary trumpeters. In a sense, he's a throwback
to the pre-modern jazz of Cootie Williams or Bubber Miley, though
Bowie is by no means a revivalist. Though he's certainly not
afraid to appropriate the growls, whinnies, slurs, and slides
of the early jazzers, it's always in the service of a thoroughly
modern sensibility. And Bowie has chops; his style is quirky,
to be sure, but grounded in fundamental jazz concepts of melody,
harmony, and rhythm.
up in St. Louis, playing in local jazz and rhythm & blues bands,
including those led by Little Milton and Albert King. Bowie
moved to Chicago in 1965, where he became musical director for
singer Fontella Bass. There Bowie met most of the musicians
with whom he would go on to make his name -- saxophonists Joseph
Jarman and Roscoe Mitchell and drummer Jack DeJohnette among
them. He is member of the Association for the Advancement of
Creative Musicians and (in 1969) the Art Ensemble of Chicago.
various bands have included From the Root to the Source -- a
sort of gospel/jazz/rock fusion group -- and Brass Fantasy,
an all-brass, post-modern big band that's become his most popular
vehicle. Bowie's catholic tastes are evidenced by the band's
repertoire; on albums, they have covered a nutty assortment
of tunes, ranging from Jimmy Lunceford's "Siesta for the Fiesta"
to Michael Jackson's "Black and White."
his work as a leader and with the Art Ensemble, Bowie has recorded
as a sideman with DeJohnette, percussionist Kahil El'zabar,
composer Kip Hanrahan, and saxophonist David Murray. He was
also a member of the mid-'80s all-star cooperative the Leaders.
Bowie's music occasionally leans too heavily on parody and aural
slapstick to be truly affecting, but at its best, a Bowie-led
ensemble can open the mind and move the feet in equal measure.
Guide, AEC One-stop Group, Inc.