Get Jammin’

Watch Professor Al Biles in his final performance at Imagine RIT

Have you ever walked into the Gordon Field House for an Open House, welcomed by a rich trumpet sound accompanied by a variety of other instruments only to realize that there is only one musician? That is the work of RIT professor, Al Biles.

Al began playing trumpet in the sixth grade with the jazz ensemble. As he grew up, he performed with friends and at various jazz clubs before continuing his graduate work at the University of Kansas. Biles’ thesis advisor at the university studied under John Holland, an American scientist and computer science professor at the University of Michigan. Holland created the idea of genetic algorithms and inspired Biles to create the genetic jammer.

“GenJam,” for short, uses a computer program to improvise jazz music with genetic algorithms. As Biles plays, GenJam identifies notes within a measure, adjusts and re-incorporates them, and accompanies as another musician would. “It is a conversation,” Biles states. “Music should be collaborative.” al biles

In the 1980s, Biles came to RIT as a computer science professor, now teaching various interactive design courses. For over 20 years, he and GenJam have performed at events on campus, including the inauguration of current RIT president, Dr. David Munson, and former president, William “Bill” Destler, as well as at every Imagine RIT (since 2008).

Sadly, this will be his last year at the university  before he retires so make sure to see him, along with GenJam and a special guest at Imagine RIT, April 27th in the Golisano Auditorium.

For more information about GenJam and Al Biles’ upcoming gigs: https://igm.rit.edu/~jabics/GenJam.html

1 Response to “Get Jammin’”


  1. 1 Not Joe April 23, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    THis guy is the dude


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