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It's Alive! It's With the Band! A Computer Soloist Holds Its Own

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Brad Lubman conducting the Ensemble Signal. In the foreground is the Disklavier piano, controlled by Voyager software, which was running on a nearby computer.

Credit: Stephanie Berger

Two guest soloists, each skilled in the art of improvisation, appeared in New York City on Friday night with the cutting-edge chamber group Ensemble Signal.

One soloist was human: Nicole Mitchell, the veteran flutist, composer and bandleader whose albums and performances are regularly (and rightly) celebrated by jazz critics.

The other soloist was a computer program — called Voyager — that can listen to live performances in real time and offer improvised responses. Originally programmed in 1987 by George Lewis, the composer, performer and computer-music pioneer, Voyager's discography is slighter than Mitchell's, but likewise thrilling.

From The New York Times
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