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A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music

By George E. Lewis | Go to book overview

9
THE AACM IN NEW YORK

Migration and Invasion

John Stubblefield and drummer Phillip Wilson were already on hand when Anthony Braxton and Leroy Jenkins returned from Europe in early 1970 to pursue an encounter with New York City. In a 1978 interview, Jenkins described his earliest days in New York:

We stayed downstairs at Ornette's Artist House, which at the time
wasn't decorated. It was cold down there, where we slept. Ornette
gave us a mattress but he didn't realize how cold it was. One night
something happened and he came downstairs to wake us up. He
said, “Wow, you cats better come upstairs.” We stayed there and
that's when I went to the University of Ornette. He put the finish-
ing touches on me. I spent three months up there, staying at his
house, doing everything. Answering the door, helping him copy
music, arguing about his harmolodic theory.1

“When I came to New York, I didn't have a gig,” recalled John Stubble field. “Mary Lou Williams gave me my first job. I came when there was a telephone strike, and I went eight months without a telephone.” Although performance opportunities and press coverage were relatively sparse, these AACM musicians performed with many of the more established experimentalists of the period, such as Mar

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