Black Studies, Books for the News, Chicago, History, Music

Abrams, Lewis, and Mitchell trio at the Chicago Jazz Festival

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In his book A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music George E. Lewis, the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University, has produced the definitive history of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Based in Chicago and counting among its members musicians like Anthony Braxton and Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, the AACM emerged in the ’60s as one of the most influential organizations in the history of North American avant-garde music and art. Since then it has become one of Chicago’s premier outlets for the edgier side of jazz and has risen to international renown spawning groups like the globe-trotting Art Ensemble of Chicago.
And to this day, largely due to the AACM and its mission to carve out a space in the midst of Chicago’s industrial landscape for musical creativity and experimentation, Chicago’s avant-garde jazz scene continues to thrive. This Friday you can head on down to the Chicago Jazz Festival at the Petrillo Music Shell to check out the Trio featuring Muhal Richard Abrams and Roscoe Mitchell—both founding AACM members—alongside George Lewis himself on trombone. The Reader‘s Bill Meyer writes, “putting such uncompromising music on the big stage is a gutsy move by the Jazz Institute, but this may turn out to be the most rewarding set of the festival.”
In the meantime, bone up on the history of the jazz in Chicago and all the Great Black Music the AACM helped produce with George E. Lewis’s A Power Stronger Than Itself.
Read an excerpt from the book.