Derek Worthington is a trumpet player, electronic musician, composer, improviser, and private teacher based in the Detroit, MI area. He leads the experimental ensemble Lossy Codecs, a group focusing on new methods of information transfer between composer, director, and performers. Worthington's interest in collaborative projects has led to the creation of numerous "leaderless" ensembles, including electroacoustic glitch-jazz duo Says Things, experimental chamber trio Wugtest, free-jazz/grunge/americana quartet The Great Collapsing Hrung, and electroacoustic noise trio Grizzled Visage. He is also a member of numerous other groups, including Marcus Elliott's Beyond Rebellious ensemble and the Balkan-funk band Ornamatik.
Worthington's primary focus is on experimental composition, group improvisation, and the intersection and interaction of the two. He approaches composition not always by constructing a specific final soundscape, but also by detailing unique processes by which it will be created – followed either in the writing process itself, or in real time by improvising musicians. Placing the process of creation on equal footing with the end result opens opportunities for sonic experimentation not otherwise available.
His electronic work centers on digital processing with SuperCollider – a text based audio synthesis and signal processing software. He has programmed, and continually builds upon, a system designed for improvised live processing of acoustically generated sound. The system focuses on immediate control as opposed to predetermined reactions or generative algorithms. This allows it to be used as a responsive, improvising instrument, reacting quickly and contributing intentionally to the demands of group improvisation.
Stylistically, Worthington's work integrates elements of experimental jazz, experimental art music, free and directed improvisation, glitch, and Americana. He also draws inspiration from scientific discoveries and methodologies, with particular interests in evolution, physics, cognitive science, and the philosophy of experimentation. He uses these ideas as inspiration for musical forms and methods of composition or improvisation.
Whether composing, performing, or improvising, he perceives collaboration as central to creative music practice. His musical conception is immeasurably enriched by performing other people's music, others performing his own, and engaging in collective improvisation, exposing him to possibilities that would go unimagined in isolation.
Worthington has performed original work around the country, including Ann Arbor, MI's Edgefest, Brooklyn's Golden Fest, and the Detroit Free Arts Festival. He has attended the Banff Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, where he had the opportunity to work with Dave Douglas, Jonathan Finlayson, Greg Tardy, Steve Lehman, and many others. He teaches private lessons in trumpet, music theory, composition, and improvisation, and in the classroom has taught music composition and led various ensembles. He holds a Master of Music in Improvisation from the University of Michigan, and a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies from the University of Missouri - Kansas City.