Lester Bowie

William Lester Bowie ( born October 11, 1941 in Frederick, Maryland, † November 8, 1999 in Brooklyn ) was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader and composer.

Life and work

Bowie grew up as part of the " Bowie clan " in Little Rock and St. Louis, where he learned early cornet and trumpet and played in school bands. His father was a trumpet player and led a house band; his brother Byron was a saxophonist and brother Joe played trombone. His first band was called Continentals (1954 ); followed by first appearances as a sideman of doo-wop groups. Bowie studied at Lincoln University in St. Louis and at North Texas State University in Dallas. There he played among others with James Clay, Billy Harper and David Newman, but occurred at this stage, especially with Oliver Lake, Joe Tex and Jimmy Forrest. During military service in the Air Force in Texas ( 1958-60 ) he performed in night clubs and played in Army and rhythm 'n' blues bands, including was with his future wife, the singer Fontella Bass, the band singer with Oliver being.

In the early 1960s he was a member of various R & B bands that concerted in the South and the Midwest, as with Little Milton, Albert King; He toured during this period, with circus bands and worked 1964/65 as a studio musician with R & B recordings of the label Chess with. By 1964, he returned to St. Louis and managed jointly with drummer Phillip Wilson, a hard bop lineup. In 1966 he moved to Chicago and was one of the founding members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians ( AACM ), an African-American musicians union, whose second he became president. Bowie had also been the founding of the Black Artists Group and the Great Black Music Orchestra in St. Louis; He also played in 1979 in New York resulting from it Human Arts Ensemble.

In Chicago Bowie initially belonged to the band of Roscoe Mitchell and worked also in its debut album for Delmark with; with him and with Joseph Jarman and Malachi Favors, he founded in the late 1960s one of the relevant Free Jazz Ensemble, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, with which he presented numerous boards and regularly went on tour, including in 1969 for the first time to Europe. He also appeared in this period, inter alia by Archie Shepp ( Blasé ), Sunny Murray, Jimmy Lyons, and Cecil Taylor with when shooting. In 1969, his extensive composition Gettin ' to Know Y' All, premiered by 50-strong Baden- Baden Free Jazz Orchestra premiere, which experienced a restatement of 1970 at the Frankfurt Jazz Festival.

In the 1970s, he was also with their own projects, as Serious Fun, active and also acted in some jazz-rock recordings. In 1974 he went on tour to Senegal, where he played with local drummers. End of the decade he played with John Abercrombie and Eddie Gomez in the formation of the drummer Jack DeJohnette New Directions, as well as in 1977 with David Murray, Luther Thomas Creative Ensemble and 1978 with Wadada Leo Smith ( Divine Love ). In 1979, he joined the 59 -member Sho Nuff Orchestra in New York, but with the no pictures were taken.

In the early 1980s experimented Bowie with his band project From Roots to the Source, the Bowie commented, " an arc of Africa through gospel songs to contemporary jazz beat. "

In the 1980s it came to experimenting with brass ensembles between five and 59 individuals establishing the popular Brass Fantasy, the artistic leader among the then emerging new jazz brass bands. He also played in the 1983 New York Hot Trumpet Repertory Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and Ray Copeland. Together with Arthur Blythe, Chico Freeman and Don Moye he belonged in 1986 to the All Star lineup The Leaders. In 1990, he took with his Big Band Brass Fantasy on the album My Way, which was released by DIW; In 1992 the album The Fire This Time, which is considered his most successful work well. [A 1] Their music drew on the traditions of the marching bands of the early New Orleans jazz. With Amina Claudine Myers, he organized an organ ensemble; with his wife, Fontella Bass, he took on various boards. In New York's Town Hall had another orchestral work Bowie's premiere. He wrote the theme music for the Bob Crosby Show ( 1990) and took the early 1990s, film music with Philippe Sarde on; Furthermore, he worked with Malachi Thompson (1994 ) and James Carter ( Conversin 'with the Elders, 1995/96 ). As a studio musician, he also took up with namesake David Bowie. Bowie died in 1999 of liver cancer.

One of his younger brothers is the trombonist Joseph Bowie, founder of the punk - funk-jazz - band Defunkt.


From Kritikerpoll of jazz magazine Down Beat Lester Bowie was elected in 1982 to the best trumpeter; Joachim -Ernst Berendt described him as " Cootie Williams of the avant-garde"; " His art to form the trumpet and change, seems inexhaustible. " Martin Kunzler named as additional reference points " half-open valves Rex Stewart ," " in his game, the New Orleans mood is just conjured up like Duke Ellington atmosphere," also sound effects on Miles Davis ' and Don Cherry. According to Carlo Bohländer Bowie combines in his compositions, free jazz, African music, gospel. and rhythm and blues elements.

Ian Carr described him as " flamboyant performer with a flair for comedy and music parody, which was responsible for the theatrical elements at the concerts of the Art Ensemble. " Furthermore, he had a " great trumpeter with a beautiful round tone and a technique and imagination," an entire trumpet tradition encompasses the rich modern varieties and the field of improvisation blues, popular songs and serious abstraction from Bubber Miley growls up to. Restrictive Carr noticed that the "danger in Bowie's theatricality " lie to cover up an occasional void in the musical message. The is often been the case with the music of the Brass Fantasy; and his growls, babbling and other mannerisms were bored then, because they expressed no genuine feeling or a creative idea.

According to Richard Cook and Brian Morton Bowie was " the jazz conservatism of the 1980s and 1990s a great renegade music and a passionate critic ".

Among the musicians who qualified by the achievements Bowie, J.-E. counts Berendt et al Olu Dara, Baikida Carroll, Herb Robertson, Rasul Siddik, Stanton Davis and Paul Smoker.

Disco Graphical Notes

  • Mirage ( Muse Records, 1974-82 ) with Julius Hemphill, John Stubblefield, John Hicks, Cecil McBee, Charles Bobo Shaw, Don Moye
  • The Fifth Power ( Black Saint, 1978) with Arthur Blythe, Amina Claudine Myers, Malachi Favors, Phillip Wilson
  • Urban Bushmen (ECM, 1981) with Art Ensemble of Chicago
  • The Great Pretender (ECM, 1981) with Hamiet Bluiett
  • I Only Have Eyes for You (ECM, 1985) with the Brass Fantasy
  • Serious Fun (DIW, 1989), with Stanton Davis, Steve Turré, Frank Lacy, Vincent Chancey, Bob Stewart, Vinnie Johnson, Don Moje, di the Brass Fantasy
  • The Organizer (DIW, 1991) with Steve Turré, James Carter, Amina Claudina Myers, Phillip Wilson, Don Moje
  • The Fire This Time ( In & Out, 1992)
  • When the Spirit Returns ( Dreyfus, 1997)