Founded in 1965 and still active today, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) is an American institution with an international reputation. George E. Lewis, who joined the collective as a teenager in 1971, establishes the full importance and vitality of the AACM with this communal history, written with a symphonic sweep that draws on a cross-generational chorus of voices and a rich collection of rare images.
Moving from Chicago to New York to Paris, and from founding member Steve McCall’s kitchen table to Carnegie Hall, A Power Stronger Than Itself uncovers a vibrant, multicultural universe and brings to light a major piece of the history of avant-garde music and art.
George E. Lewis is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University. A recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship in 2002, Lewis has made over 120 recordings as composer or performer, and his publications on experimental music appear regularly in scholarly and popular journals.
Table of Contents
Preface: The AACM and American Experimentalism Introduction: An AACM Book: Origins, Antecedents, Objectives, Methods Chapter Summaries Acknowledgments
Chapter 1: Foundations and Prehistory Coming North: From Great Migration to Great Depression Early Musical Experiences Improvisation and Autodidacticism in 1950s Chicago The End of an Era
Chapter 2: New Music, New York Cultures of Spontaneity: Integrationism and the Two Avant-Gardes Beyond a Bebop Boundary: The Challenge of New Music Critical Responses: Anger, Noise, Failure A Far Cry from New York: Segregation and Chicago Music
Chapter 3: The Development of the Experimental Band Alternative Pedagogies of Experimental Music Eyes on the Sparrow: The First New Chicagoans
Chapter 4: Founding the Collective Urban Decline and the Turn to Communitarianism Born on the Kitchen Table: Conceiving the Association Naming Ceremony: Black Power and Black Institutions
Chapter 5: First Fruits The First Year: Concerts, Critics, and Issues New Arrivals and the University of Chicago Travel, Recording, and Intermedia Memories of the Sun: The AACM and Sun Ra
Chapter 6: The AACM Takes Off The Black Arts Movement in Chicago New Arrivals and New Ideas The AACM School Performing and Self-Determination Cultural Nationalism in Postmodern Transition
Chapter 7: Americans in Paris Conceiving the World Audience Le Nouveau Paris Noir: Collectivity, Competition, and Excitement The Politics of Culture: Black Power and May 1968 Die Emanzipation: The Rise of European Free Improvisation Homecoming
Chapter 8: The AACM’s Next Wave More from the Midwest: The Black Artists Group New Elbows on the Table: The AACM’s Second Wave Ten Years After: The Association Comes of Age
Chapter 9: The AACM in New York Migration and Invasion Europe and the Lofts Beyond a Binary: The AACM and the Crisis in Criticism Diversity and Its Discontents: New American Music after the Jazz Age
Chapter 10: The New Regime in Chicago Generational Shifts in the Collective The Two Cultures and a New Chapter Form and Funding: Philanthropy and Black Music in the 1970s Strains, Swirls, and Splits
Chapter 11: Into the Third Decade The 1980s: Canons and Heterophony Great Black Music: The Local and the Global Leading the Third Wave: The New Women of the AACM
Chapter 12: Transition and Reflections New York in Transition Chicago in Reflection J’ai deux amours . . .
Afterword The Way of the Arranger The Individual The Book Expansion and Sacrifice Boxing with Tradition Regrets Survival Contemplating the Post-jazz Continuum Atmospheres Futures
Appendix A: List of Interviews Conducted by the Author Appendix B: Selected AACM Recordings