Music Collective Reaches 40th with Weekend Gigs

Article excerpt

Byline: Barbara Vitello

Forty years ago Sunday, pianists Muhal Richard Abrams and Jodie Christian, drummer Steve McCall and trumpeter Phil Cohran made history.

They founded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, an influential musicians' collective whose members emerged as standard bearers for jazz's progressive revolution.

This weekend Christian and fellow AACM veterans - including saxophonists Fred Anderson, Ari Brown and Joseph Jarman, bassist Mwata Bowden, drummers Reggie Nicholson and Dushun Mosley, pianist Ann Ward and composer/bandleader Edward Wilkerson among others - celebrate the AACM's legacy with a weekend of concerts at the Chicago Cultural Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The celebration commences at 2 p.m. Saturday with a free concert by the AACM Experimental Chamber Ensemble featuring: flutist Nicole Mitchell, reedist Douglas R. Ewart, Wilkerson, Bowden, Brown, Ward and Mosley. It takes place at the Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., Chicago.

It continues Sunday at the MCA, 220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, with an historical overview showcasing Mitchell, Ward, Jarman, Ewart, singer Rita Warford and electronic musician George E. Lewis.

A free performance by AACM students follows at 4 p.m.

The celebration concludes at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the MCA with an all-star lineup including the AACM Fire Trio made up of Christian, Nicholson and Brown.

Other musicians scheduled to perform include: 8 Bold Souls, with special guest Anderson; the duo Lewis and Ward; Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble with flutist James Newton and vocalist Dee Alexander; a quintet made up of Ewart, Bowden, Wilkerson, Warford and guest saxophonist Oliver Lake and a quartet comprising trombonist Isaiah Jackson, trumpeter Corey Wilkes, drummer Vincent Davis and percussionist Art "Turk" Burton.

Tickets are $20, $16 for AACM members. They're available at the box office, by phone at (312) 297-4010 or online at www.mcachicago.org.

Styne saluted: Good thing Jule Styne gave up classical music, or he may have never composed classics "Everything's Coming Up Roses," "Don't Rain on My Parade," "People," "Diamond's Are a Girl's Best Friend" and "Just in Time" among others.

As a child, the London-born piano prodigy-turned-legendary songwriter played with the Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis symphonies. But he gave up a promising career as a classical pianist to write pop songs and Broadway scores, including those for "Gypsy," "Funny Girl," "Bells Are Ringing," "Peter Pan" and "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" among others. …