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ITT: The Collective That Saved Jazz

salim_Tony-Smith-192.web_850_592By Salim Muwakkil
This year, a truly golden anniversary is taking place in Chicago: the 50th birthday of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), an organization unlike any other in the history of jazz music—or any musical genre, for that matter.

The AACM is at once a management firm, artistic salon, aesthetic manifesto, training ground for young musicians and musical manifestation of black cultural nationalism. In short, it’s hard to pin down. But what’s clear is this: It is the most illustrious jazz collective in history.

The AACM was formed in Chicago in 1965, when jazz was losing its pop currency to rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll. For jazz musicians, as AACM member George Lewis explains in his 2007 book, A Power Stronger than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music, everything was beginning to evaporate: club dates, dance-band jobs, instrumental recording sessions. And so musicians came together and organized, under the logic that if the clubs refused to hire them, they would create their own venues and put on their own concerts.

Source: In These Times

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