Black Studies, Chicago, History, Music, Reviews

Rain Taxi reviews A Power Stronger than Itself

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The Fall 2008 print edition of the Rain Taxi Review of Books published a positive review of George E. Lewis’s new book A Power Stronger than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music. Rain Taxi contributor W. C. Bamberger begins:

Founded in 1965, the AACM … seeks to enable black composers and performers of experimental music to take control of its presentation and recording. For more than forty years the name and acronym have been appearing in the liner notes of recordings by The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Muhal Richard Abrams, and many others, but information about the group has always been rather hazy, a frustration that George E. Lewis’s impressive sociological-historical study more than remedies.
Lewis, a trombonist and electronic musician, is also an AACM member and past president, and so brings an insider’s perspective to his analysis. He also conducted nearly 100 interviews with musicians and writers and presents their memories and views, some of them clashing, in hopes that “a useful story might be realized out of the many voices heard in this book, the maelstrom of heteroglossia in which we nervously tread water.” There is no picket fencing here: Lewis doesn’t utilize the high point or famous member system, so many too-little known musicians have their say. This is in part to give credit where credit is due, and to refuse “stars” exclusive rights to the AACM’s history.…
Others in his wake will find this a valuable resource, and will also find it difficult to match Lewis for depth and critical insight.

Pick up a copy of the Fall 2008 edition of Rain Taxi to read the review.
Also read an excerpt from the book.