Jon Gibson (minimalist musician)

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Jon Gibson (born March 11, 1940) is a flautist, saxophonist, composer and visual artist, known as one of the founding members of the Philip Glass Ensemble and as a key player on several seminal minimalist music compositions.


Gibson studied at Sacramento State University and with Henry Onderdonk and Wayne Peterson at San Francisco State University, 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 (Strickland 2001).


Gibson uses various instruments from around the world in his performances of jazz and classical music.

He was a founding member of the Philip Glass Ensemble, with whom he continues to perform today. Gibson performed in the premiers 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 (Strickland 2001). 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 (Glass 2007, Preface)[full citation needed]. 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 (Young 2018, 12, 15).

He has also performed and recorded with other composers, some of them minimalists, including Christian Wolff, David Behrman, Harold Budd, Alvin Curran, Arthur Russell, Annea Lockwood and Frederic Rzewski (Strickland 2001).

In 1973, Gibson's debut solo recording Visitations was released on the Chatham Square label, run by Philip Glass (Anon. n.d.). 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 released, also on the Chatham Square imprint, consisting of the droning organ composition Cycles and Untitled, a piece for solo alto flute.

Gibson is also an accomplished visual artist. Throughout his career he has created numerous graphic text based works laden with musical information (Powell 2016). He also created the cover artwork for his solo albums Two Solo Pieces and Criss X Cross.[citation needed]



  • Visitations (1973, Chatham Square)
  • Two Solo Pieces (1977, Chatham Square)
  • In Good Company (1992, Point Music)
  • Criss X Cross (2006, Tzadik)
  • The Dance (2013, Orange Mountain Music)
  • Relative Calm (2016, New World Records)


  • Anon. n.d. "Jon Gibson (2)". Discogs. Retrieved 2016-12-25.
  • Glass, Philip. 2007. The Viking of 6th Avenue.[full citation needed]: Feral House. ISBN 0976082284.
  • Powell, Britton. 2016. "BOMB Magazine — Jon Gibson by Britton Powell". Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  • Strickland, Edward. 2001. "Gibson, Jon (Charles)". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
  • Young, La Monte. 2018. Two Morning Concerts of Raga Bhairava. New York, NY: Mela Foundation.[ISBN missing]

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