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Douglas R. Ewart : Expressions

‘Douglas Ewart : Expressions’ explores Ewart’s career and evolution as a musician within the context of his 40+ year connection to the AACM.


Chicago-based nonprofit Experimental Sound Studio (ESS) is collaborating with inimitable composer, improviser, and visual artist Douglas R. Ewart to present “Douglas Ewart : Expressions,” an exploration of Ewart’s dynamic, cross-disciplinary practice. ‘Expressions’ will take place as an installation and a series of live events across multiple platforms from July 31-October 25, 2020.


At 74 years old, ‘Expressions’ is Ewart’s first comprehensive solo presentation in the U.S. He will present new work and collaborations as the point of departure for an exploration of his career and evolution as a musician within the context of his 40+ year connection to the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), a nonprofit that is devoted to the nurturing, performing, and recording of serious creative music. After emigrating to the US from his birthplace of Kingston, Jamaica, Ewart joined the AACM in 1967, and served as the organization’s president from 1979-1986. His enduring involvement with the group has threaded throughout his artistic career, weaving a narrative of strength in community, experimentation, and spirituality through each project’s vision and future-focused aspirations. While AACM remains active in its mission, the organization’s elders have reached an age where it is imperative to unveil and document their narratives.


An immersive, evolving installation in ESS’s Audible Gallery will include his personal collection of historical artifacts, film, sculptures, and memorabilia, Ewart’s current multimedia work, and new works created on-site with artists who have made significant impact on the international creative arts and music communities. Over the course of 3 public performances at ESS, Ewart will collaborate with rotating ensembles of AACM artists from across generations, including prominent luminaries Ed Wilkerson Jr., Mwata Bowden, Dee Alexander, Jeff Parker, Kidd Jordan, and others.


October 1 Ewart will bring together a selection of AACM members in a public roundtable discussion to talk about individual visions, the collective aspect of the organization, the impact on creative music today, and the importance of its legacy for future generations. This talk, which can be placed in a continuum of historic conversations stretching back to the first AACM meeting in 1965, is planned to take place at the Green Line Performing Arts Center on Chicago’s South Side. All live events will be live streamed and professionally recorded for future public access in ESS’s Creative Audio Archive. Participating musicians will also have access to the recordings to use as they wish.


The dates for ‘Expressions’ were intentionally chosen to coincide with the 42nd Annual Chicago Jazz Festival and the 55th Anniversary of the AACM, celebrating the continued relevance of this monumental organization by opening up exciting pathways to rare collaborations between active members during the project’s length. This time frame provides increased opportunity for the public to experience the work, whether they’re visiting or excited to explore a new view into Chicago music history. ESS, a longtime supporter of Ewart, is honored to collaborate with him in this vision to retrospectively highlight his career, create new work, and inject further sustainability into the legacy of the AACM.

Project Media

OPTION: Lunch with Money ft. Lou Mallozzi & Douglas Ewart (Excerpt)
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Video documentation of a 2018 performance as part of the revered Option Series at Experimental Sound Studio, curated by MacArthur Fellow Ken Vandermark. This video documents an improvised duo performance with Lou Mallozzi and Douglas Ewart (manipulated vinyl record playback, woodwinds, voice, and percussion). ESS’s long history with Ewart—starting with commissioning Ewart and George Lewis to create Rio Negro in 1989—makes them an ideal partner for this project.

Crepuscule Chicago
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Features: Douglas Ewart

Video documentation of the third performance of Crepuscule, a community participatory performance in Chicago’s south side Washington Park on October 5th, 2003. It is a celebration of community, creativity, and the enrichment of individual spirit. This includes multiple groupings that explore theater, music, puppetry, spoken word, and a special ceremony that honors community elders. Ewart will deploy many of the methodologies and central values developed in Crepuscule to create new collaborative work for ‘Expressions.’

Crepuscule – Guelph
Features: Douglas Ewart

Ewart’s interactive instruments displayed as part of a show at Robert Langen Art Gallery (2016). The pieces were created in 2015 at a residency at Wilfrid Laurier University (2015-2016), culminating in a participatory Crepuscule performance at Guelph’s Arboretum. Crepuscule is an ongoing community based work exploring the inspiring interactions that are possible between strangers via improvisational music, art, and conversation. New interactive sonic and visual works set the stage for an in-depth exploration of Ewart’s past & future as a maker.

Start and End Dates



Chicago, Illinois

Project Created By

Chicago, Illinois
ESS is a non-profit, artist-run organization focused on sound in all its exploratory cultural manifestations, including music, sound art, installation, cinema, performing arts, sound poetry, broadcast, new media, and more. It is our mission to serve the artists engaged in these disciplines, the audiences who listen to them, and the public who may as yet…

In Collaboration With

Lead Artist, Musician, Composer


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