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

By George E. Lewis | Go to book overview

6
THE AACM TAKES OFF

The Black Arts Movement in Chicago

The early AACM features and reviews rarely explored the complex relationship between the new Chicago music, radical politics, and the issues of race that were raging during the 1960s, instead focusing on an art-for-art's sake philosophy that seemed at variance with the larger purposes of many musicians. A 1967 Philip Cohran concert paid special tribute to John Coltrane, who had passed away in September of that year at the age of forty. For some reason, the reviewer felt that the music of Cohran's Artistic Heritage Ensemble was “inappropriate” to the spirit of such a tribute, asserting that “his selling gimmick is to lecture audiences on some detail from Every Boy's Book of Negro History and then play a ditty 'based' on that detail.”1 Another critic of a Cohran event felt that “it is depressing to sit with the Negro bourgeoisie, who support these groups and listen to mild musical admonitions about hair-straightening etc. The liberal Negro audience, of course, now lets its hair grow curled, but out in the ghettos hairstraightening, poverty and violence still prevail.”2

Of course, Cohran's work expressly sought to combat “hairstraightening, poverty and violence” through the power of music, declaring that “the musician has a great responsibility to elevate his people as he enter tains.”3 The program notes for Cohran's final

-163-

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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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