Multi-instrumentalist Mwata Bowden was born in Memphis but has his roots in Chicago's jazz history. After training under legendary band director Walter Dyett at DuSable high school, touring with the rhythm and blues band the Chi-lites and developing a reputation as a riveting multi-instrumentalist Bowden established a jazz scene at the University of Chicago where he is currently the Director of Jazz Ensembles.
As a second generation member and former Chair of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), he helped evolve the concept of collective improvisation through its signature band, the Great Black Music Ensemble. His 20 year partnership with Tatsu Aoki's Miyumi Project, helped create an amalgam of American jazz with Japanese Taiko, and as a member of Edward Wilkerson's Eight Bold Souls, Bowden has performed at jazz and blues festivals throughout Chicago and around the world.
He is a long time educator who understands how learning and applying the skills of improvisation can provide life-long benefits for youth; from Chicago Public School elementary and high school students to the AACM School to the many Jazz X-Tet students and alumni at the University of Chicago as well as workshops he has presented to students worldwide. In 2013 he received the Jazz Journalists Association's Jazz Hero award for his advocacy for and cultivation of a strong and vibrant jazz community in Chicago and in the world.