The snows of winter in Chicago often reveal as much as they cover. During the month of January Chicago slows down in what may be called a citywide hibernation. In January of 1985 eight musicians came together to premier new music for a series of Thursday night concerts in downtown Chicago at a performance venue called Chicago Filmmakers. The group featured the unusual instrumentation of two woodwinds, trumpet, trombone, cello, tuba, bass, and trap drums. The concerts, entitled "New Music for 8 Bold Souls", were successful with both critics and musicians. Hence the formation for the group known as 8 Bold Souls, led by Composer, Reedist Edward Wilkerson.
In order to have a good understanding of 8 Bold Souls it is important to understand a bit more about the ensemble’s leader. Musically Wilkerson finds inspiration from those he has studied or worked with such as Muhal richard Abrams, Henry Threadgill, LesterRBowie, Fred Anderson, Von Freeman, Johnny Britt, as well as many other fellow members of the AACM. He is equally inspired by those he has listened to such as Duke Ellington, Igor Stravinsky, Ornette Coleman, Coleman Hawkins, Bela Bartok, Jimmy Lunceford, Maurice Ravel and ethnic music such as pygmy music from the Ituri forest. In addition, Wilkerson cites many non-musical inspirations like family, education and readings. Fostered by the AACM, Wilkerson learned to think about music in an encouraging environment that promoted musical education in equal doses with experimentation. 8 Bold Souls' music is both melodic (reminiscent of small groups led by Ellington and Lunceford) and challenging (featuring complex arrangements for innovative instrumentation). The Music of Last Option showcases this duality nicely.