Lester Bowie, 58, a jazz trumpeter who was a 1969 founding member of the long-running Art Ensemble of Chicago, died Nov. 8 at his home in Brooklyn, N.Y. He had liver cancer.
The Art Ensemble has played in the United States and Europe for 30 years.
Mr. Bowie, who also played the fluegelhorn, was known as a flamboyant performer with a sense of humor and an appreciation for the theatrical side of performing.
"Lester Bowie was a great trumpeter who kind of pushed the boundaries," said Walter Wade, an on-air personality at WBGO-FM, a jazz station in Newark.
"His approach to playing, it was very visceral," Wade said.
That style was matched by the musicians he played with in the ensemble.
"They were pioneers who took music seriously but didn't leave the theater out," Wade said.
Mr. Bowie was known for using all kinds of music in his performances, including the works of Michael Jackson and James Brown.
Mr. Bowie, who was born in Frederick, Md., grew up in Arkansas and Missouri. He started playing the trumpet at age 5 and by 16, he was leading his own group.
As a teenager in St. Louis, he practiced his trumpet by an open window, hoping that Louis Armstrong would hear him and discover him.
Mr. Bowie helped form Black Artist Group and the Great Black Orchestra in St. Louis. Later, in Chicago, he and saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell formed the Art Ensemble of Chicago. He recorded with Archie Shepp, Sunny Murray, Jimmy Lyons and Cecil Taylor.
He had been on tour with the group Brass Fantasy in London and went to a hospital there when he felt ill, said Kevin Beauchamp, a representative of the Art Ensemble. He left the tour and headed back to New York. He went into the hospital in New York and was sent home, where he died.
His marriage to rhythm-and-blues singer Fonella Bass ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife, Deborah, of Brooklyn; six children; his father; two brothers; and two grandchildren.