A Power Stronger Than Itself

George E. Lewis

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 NY to Paris, and from founding member Steve McCall’s kitchen table to Carnegie Hall, this book uncovers a vibrant, multicultural universe and brings to light a major piece of the history of avant-garde music and art.

status Copy #1 (3428): in
genre Music » Music History
publisher University of Chicago Press
publish date 2008
popularity checked out 0 time(s)


  • By Riley Reasor -

    A Power Stronger Than Itself chronicles Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Music and the relationship of a black cultural identity to experimental music through interviews and personal accounts with members such as Roscoe Mitchell, Leo Smith, Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, Joseph Jarman, George Lewis, Don Moye and Fred Anderson. The book describes the members’ political and economic backgrounds involving racism and poverty and the struggle of making a living as a jazz musician to outline the necessity of the collective.

    The AACM began in 1965 as a music school, system of dues, gigs and wages, and united these elements with a strong aesthetic vision under idioms such as “Great Black Music”, “Creative Music” or “Ancient to the Future”. Also chronicled are sometimes contentious relationships with what is viewed as Amiri Baraka’s more essentialist visions of a black cultural identity, a complex relationship to European Art Music as well as race and appropriation as well as the political background and possibly utopian elements of experimental and avant garde music as it relates to a black cultural identity.

    This book may be of interest to anyone interested in the history of jazz and experimental music or anyone who believes that radical political change also involves some element of departure from a paradoxical relationship between mass culture and individualism towards a collective model that creates its own community infrastructure to aid in the creation of different futures.

    Related Listening:
    Anthony Braxton – Creative Orchestra Music 1976
    Muhal Abrams Orchestra – The Hearinga Suite
    Territory Band – Atlas 2
    Roscoe Mitchell – Sound
    Leo Smith – Divine Love
    Art Ensemble of Chicago – Fanfare for the Warriors
    Fred Anderson Quintet – Another Place

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