George Lewis: Sequel (For Lester Bowie) (2006)
On this evidence of his artistic journey, George Lewis could almost be two people. On the one hand, he is one of the most compelling trombone players out there, while on the other, he also explores the interface of electro-acoustic music with exceptional rigour and intelligence.
Over half of the music captured on Sequel is made up of the title piece, and in a sense it defines precisely what Lewis is all about. The ebb and flow of the music, happily caught in exceptional fidelity, obeys none of the established rules. In places it recalls the early and most worthwhile work of Tangerine Dream in the degree to which it adheres to an aesthetic of abstraction.
As the only player present who doesn't double on either laptop or electronics, guitarist Jeff Parker's contribution is a law unto itself, closely adhering to none of the role models for guitar playing in this field of music.
The extensive deployment of electronics has the effect of locating the music in some space far removed from the earthbound realm. The results have the effect of putting a marker down for Lewis as a composer, and this is a development that will only be welcomed by those whose minds are as open as their ears.
The remainder of the set is made up from three free improvisations which serve notice that Lewis has got himself a formidable band here. The contributions of individual players are transcended by the group identity established in the process, and it's a tribute to all concerned that the music maintains an underlying sense of democracy.
Ultimately what we could have here is a body of music that might just have hit that magic zone in which repeated listening reveals something new more or less every time.
Track Listing: Sequel, A Composition For Cybernetic Improvisers (For Lester Bowie); Calling All Cyborgs (After Sun Ra); Tuning Meditation; Octavia's Dream.
Personnel: Guillermo E. Brown: drums, percussion, electronics; duo 48nord: Ulrich Muller: guitar, laptop; Siegfried Rossert: bass, voice, laptop. Miya Masaoka: koto, electronics; Kaffe Matthews: electronics; DJ Mutamassik: turntables; Jeff Parker: electric guitar; George Lewis: trombone, laptop, buchla lighting.