Thursday, November 5, 2020

George Lewis Rainbow Family, IRCAM, May 1984


George Lewis Rainbow Family's live 1984 IRCAM (Carrier 051) CD recaptures the excitement and adventure of avant improv then. This program was one of the first live electronic IRCAM performances and engages George Lewis on a specially programmed set of laptops in tandem with some of the finest avant improvisers of our times.

So we get some wonderfully lively and adventurous duets of George's computer generated improvs and Joelle Leandre on bass, with Derek Bailey on electric guitar, with Douglas Ewart on bass clarinet, and with Steve Lacy on soprano. All that is followed by a trio of Lewis, Bailey and Ewart and then the finale with all five voices.

The electronics are nicely clangorous, open and very exploratory vehicles to challenge improvisors. As George Lewis says in the press sheet that accompanied this CD, it was probably the first commission from IRCAM for "so-called improvising computer programs" where musical input from the improvisors involved were transformed into pitch and "envelope-following hardware." Three microcomputers created their own responses to the music and in turn were related to by the improvisors.

Each movement has its magic and that becomes more apparent the more one listens. This is music fully worth the wait. It deftly spans the interstices between Jazz Improv brilliance and new music pioneering. Bravo!

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