Jon Gibson (minimalist musician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jon Gibson
Born(1940-03-11)March 11, 1940
DiedOctober 11, 2020(2020-10-11) (aged 80)
OrganizationsPhilip Glass Ensemble

Jon Gibson (March 11, 1940 – October 11, 2020) was an American flutist, saxophonist, composer and visual artist, known as one of the founding members of the Philip Glass Ensemble. He was a key player on several seminal minimalist music compositions. He was born in Los Angeles to Charles and Muriel (née Taylor) Gibson, both educators, and grew up in El Monte, a suburb.[1]


Gibson studied at Sacramento State University and later at San Francisco State University with Henry Onderdonk and Wayne Peterson, where he earned a BA in 1964. His earliest work as an improviser and composer also dates from around this time, when he performed in the New Music Ensemble with composers Larry Austin, Richard Swift, and Stanley Lunetta.[2]


Gibson used various instruments from around the world in his performances of jazz and classical music. He was a founding member of the Philip Glass Ensemble,[3] and his mastery of circular breathing techniques made him crucial to the development of Glass' sound. Glass stated, "To put it bluntly, the music wouldn’t have happened without that.”[4] Gibson performed in the premieres of In C by Terry Riley and Drumming by Steve Reich, as well as Reich's 1967 composition Reed Phase, which Reich wrote especially for him.[2][3] For a time in the 1960s, alongside Philip Glass & Steve Reich, Gibson performed the music of Moondog during weekly sessions with the composer, recordings of which were made by Reich.[5] He was briefly a member of the Theatre of Eternal Music with La Monte Young, and in the 1970s Gibson studied with Pandit Pran Nath.[6]

He also performed and recorded with other composers, some of them minimalists, as well as composing for choreographers, including Christian Wolff, David Behrman, Harold Budd, Alvin Curran, Arthur Russell, Annea Lockwood, Robert Ashley, Lucinda Childs, Robert Wilson and Frederic Rzewski.[2][3]

In 1973, Gibson's debut solo recording Visitations was released on the Chatham Square label, run by Philip Glass.[7][8] Visitations is a departure from the structured repetitions of his minimalist contemporaries, instead using field recordings, ambient flutes, synthesizers and free-flowing percussive textures. In 1977, Two Solo Pieces was also released on the Chatham Square imprint, consisting of the droning organ composition Cycles and Untitled, a piece for solo alto flute.[8]

Gibson was also an accomplished visual artist.[9] Throughout his career, he created numerous graphic text based works laden with musical information.[10] He also created the cover artwork for albums such as Two Solo Pieces and Criss X Cross.[8][9] In 2017, Gibson performed at Moogfest.[11][12][13]

Gibson died on October 11, 2020, from complications of a brain tumor.[3][4][14]


  • Visitations (1973) (Chatham Square)[8]
  • Two Solo Pieces (1977) (Chatham Square)[8]
  • In Good Company (1992) (Point Music)[9]
  • Criss X Cross (2006) (Tzadik Records)[8]
  • The Dance (2013) (Orange Mountain Music)[8]
  • Relative Calm (2016) (New World Records)[8]
  • Violet Fire: An Opera About Nikola Tesla (2019) (Orange Mountain Music)
  • Songs & Melodies: 1973-1977 (2020) (Superior Viaduct)


  1. ^ Powell, Britton (July 20, 2016). "Jon Gibson". BOMB Magazine. Archived from the original on September 21, 2018. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Strickland, Edward (January 20, 2001). Sadie, Stanley; Tyrrell, John (eds.). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd ed.). London: Macmillan Publishers. Gibson, Jon (Charles). doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.42724. ISBN 9780333608005. OCLC 222818097.
  3. ^ a b c d Hussey, Allison (October 13, 2020). "Jon Gibson, Minimalist Composer, Dead at 80". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on October 16, 2020. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Smith, Steve (October 19, 2020). "Jon Gibson, Minimalist Saxophonist and Composer, Dies at 80". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on October 19, 2020. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  5. ^ Scotto, Robert M.; Moondog; Reich, Steve; Glass, Philip; Gibson, Jon (2007). Moondog, the Viking of 6th Avenue: The authorized biography. Los Angeles: Process. Preface. ISBN 978-0-9760822-8-6. OCLC 154705304.
  6. ^ Young, La Monte; Zazeela, Marian; Choi, Jung Hee; Budhkar, Naren (2017). "The Just Alap Raga Ensemble: Marian Zazeela 78th Birthday Tribute Celebration". Mela Foundation. New York City. pp. 12, 15. Archived from the original on August 24, 2021. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  7. ^ "Jon Gibson Discography". Discogs. Archived from the original on February 13, 2016. Retrieved December 25, 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h "Jon Gibson Albums and Discography". AllMusic. 2020. Archived from the original on October 16, 2020. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c "Jon Gibson In Good Company". Reviews. Gramophone. June 1993. Archived from the original on October 16, 2020. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  10. ^ Powell 2016.
  11. ^ "Moogfest expands 2017 lineup (Flying Lotus, Animal Collective, Gotye, more)". BrooklynVegan. March 7, 2017. Archived from the original on August 10, 2020. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  12. ^ "May 18, 2017: Moogfest 2017 at Durham, North Carolina, United States". Concert Archives. Archived from the original on March 9, 2022. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  13. ^ Lewin, Elisabeth McLaury (March 7, 2017). "Moogfest Unveils Performer Lineup, Program Highlights". Synthtopia. Archived from the original on March 8, 2017. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  14. ^ Hughes, Josiah (October 13, 2020). "R.I.P. Minimalist Composer Jon Gibson". Exclaim!. Archived from the original on October 14, 2020. Retrieved October 13, 2020.

External links[edit]