Sunday, January 25. 2009
Franklin J Bruno: Jazz Is?. Book review of George E. Lewis's A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music, which weighing in at 676 pages single-handedly fills a major gap in recent jazz history. The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians was formed in Chicago c. 1965. I've seen numerous founder claims, but early on the most recognizable figure was Muhal Richard Abrams, and before long the Association had an exemplary flagship group, the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Lewis is a professor at Columbia, but he is a brilliant trombonist and composer who figured significantly in the early careers of Anthony Braxton, who came out of the AACM, and David Murray, who bypassed the AACM in his move from California to the New York loft scene. He is deeply involved in this history, but still somewhat outside of it.
The AACM was unusual in managing to institutionalize support for avant-jazz, maintaining a group (as opposed to stylistic) identity over more than 40 years -- Nicole Mitchell's mother would have been a small girl when the group was founded. Lewis talks about how Abrams managed to break through the "serious music" gatekeepers to get some financial support for AACM in the 1980s, only to see Wynton Marsalis/Jazz at the Philharmonic enforce a new kind of orthodoxy:
Later in the review:
Looks like an important book, gathered together just in time. Wish I had time to delve into it; some point in the future I hope to.