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

By George E. Lewis | Go to book overview

4
FOUNDING THE COLLECTIVE

Urban Decline and the Turn to Communitarianism

During the last phase of the Great Migration, from 1950 to 1965, Chicago's black population doubled from 14 to 28 percent of the total; in 1965, Chicago's African American population topped one million for the first time. In the heyday of the Cotton Club, Bronzeville's musical center was 63rd Street, previously a border zone between the black and white communities.1 That heyday was all too brief, however, as the advent of the 1960s saw the sudden decline and near-disappearance of the area's music venues. Like a canary sounding the alarm in a mineshaft, the Cotton Club was one of the first to go, closing for good in the late 1950s. The musical action shifted temporarily to another Cottage Grove club, McKie's Disk Jockey Show Lounge, run by entrepreneur and radio personality McKie Fitzhugh, one of the few black club owners in the city. McKie's was one of the last South Side venues to feature, along with the best and brightest of Chicago's musicians, nationally known improvisors such as John Coltrane. Leslie Rout, a cultural historian who also had experience as a saxophonist in Chicago, noted that by 1967, “there did not exist on the South Side of Chicago a single club that booked nationally established jazz talent on a consistent basis.”2

The disappearance of the South Side club scene has never been adequately explained, though anecdotal speculations and academic

-85-

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface - The AACM and American Experimentalism ix
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Introduction - An AACM Book: Origins, Antecedents, Objectives, Methods xxiii
  • Chapter Summaries xxxv
  • 1: Foundations and Prehistory 1
  • 2: New Music, New York 29
  • 3: The Development of the Experimental Band 55
  • 4: Founding the Collective 85
  • 5: First Fruits 115
  • 6: The AACM Takes Off 163
  • 7: Americans in Paris 215
  • 8: The AACM's Next Wave 259
  • 9: The AACM in New York 325
  • 10: The New Regime in Chicago 389
  • 11: Into the Third Decade 440
  • 12: Transition and Reflections 481
  • Afterword 497
  • Appendix A - Interviews Conducted by the Author 515
  • Appendix B - Selected AACM Recordings 519
  • Notes 525
  • Bibliography 601
  • Index 637
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