George Lewis & Friends | Museum of Contemporary Art | Jazz | Chicago Reader

George Lewis & Friends Recommended All Ages Soundboard

When: Sun., Feb. 5, 3 p.m. 2012

The world of classical music has long been reluctant to take composers from the jazz world seriously. There have been isolated exceptions—in 1972 the London Symphony Orchestra performed Ornette Coleman's Skies of America—but more often than not, folks like Anthony Braxton and Anthony Davis have had to rely on their own resources to stage large-scale works. (Braxton has occasionally used student ensembles.) In some ways this has probably been for the best, because jazz composers often write music that requires improvisational skill to perform—an area where institutional orchestras usually fall short. Lately, though, the lines between the jazz and classical communities have been dissolving rapidly—and few people have done as much to erase them as Chicago native George Lewis, one of the world's greatest jazz trombonists and increasingly one of its most interesting composers. He released three major works on last year's Les Exercices Spirituels (Tzadik), and though two are fully notated, with no improvisation to speak of, the music is hardly conventional: "Ikons" was adapted from a sound installation where human movement triggered computer-housed sounds, and "Hello Mary Lou," performed on the album by young, progressive New York ensemble Wet Ink, collides chamber music with Lewis's live electronic processing. This afternoon's dazzling program by International Contemporary Ensemble—a group with the knowledge and chops to deal with Lewis's music—includes two Lewis pieces as well as world premieres of compositions by flutist Nicole Mitchell and percussionist Tyshawn Sorey and the Chicago premiere of a piece by reedist Steve Lehman. All the composers will attend, and all but Lewis will also perform. —Peter Margasak

Price: $22-$28

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