|Founder||Muhal Richard Abrams, Jodie Christian, Steve McCall, Phil Cohran|
|Purpose||Support and encourage jazz performers, composers and educators|
|Henry Threadgill, Anthony Braxton, Jack DeJohnette|
|Affiliations||Black Artists' Group|
The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) is a non-profit organization, founded in 1965 in Chicago by pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, pianist Jodie Christian, drummer Steve McCall, and composer Phil Cohran.The AACM is devoted "to nurturing, performing, and recording serious, original music," according to its charter. It supports and encourages jazz performers, composers and educators. Although founded in the jazz tradition, the group's outreach and influence has, according to Larry Blumenfeld, "touched nearly all corners of modern music."
By the 1960s jazz music was losing ground to rock music and the founders of the AACM felt that a proactive group of musicians would add creativity and outlet for new music.The AACM was formed in May 1965 by a group of musicians centered on pianist Muhal Richard Abrams who had organized an Experimental Band since 1962. The musicians were generally steadfast in their commitment to their music, despite a lack of performance venues and sometimes indifferent audiences. From 1969 the AACM organised a music education program for inner-city youths. In the 1960s and 1970s AACM members were among the most important and innovative in all of jazz, though the AACM's contemporary influence has waned some in recent years. Many AACM members have recorded widely: in the early days on the Delmark Records Avant Garde Jazz series and later on the Black Saint/Soul Note and India Navigation labels, and to a lesser extent on the Arista Records and ECM labels.
The musical endeavors of members of the AACM often include an adventurous mixing of avant-garde jazz, classical, and world music. The AACM also ran a school, The AACM School of Music, with classes in all areas taught by members of the AACM. The AACM also had a strong relationship with an influential sister organization, the Black Artists' Group (BAG) of St. Louis, Missouri. The AACM has received aid from the MacArthur Foundation and has a strong relationship with Columbia College. A Power Stronger Than Itself: The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians by George Lewis, has been published by the University of Chicago Press (May 2008).
In 2015, a 50-year retrospective exhibition of art, music and group-related artifacts, entitled, "Free at First", was held at the DuSable Museum of African American History.
The AACM has been on the forefront of the avant-garde since its inception in 1965. Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago pushed the boundaries of jazz and challenged the avant-garde classical movement led by John Cage. Concerts were heavily improvised, and many AACM members created scores that blended music, geometry, painting, and ciphers to be interpreted by the performers live. The AACM was part of an artistic movement on the South Side of Chicago that included AFRICobra (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists) and other collectives.
Avant-garde jazz is a style of music and improvisation that combines avant-garde art music and composition with jazz. It originated in the 1950s and developed through the 1960s. Originally synonymous with free jazz, much avant-garde jazz was distinct from that style.
Muhal Richard Abrams was an American educator, administrator, composer, arranger, clarinetist, cellist, and jazz pianist in the free jazz medium. He recorded and toured the United States, Canada and Europe with his orchestra, sextet, quartet, duo and as a solo pianist. His musical affiliations constitute a "who's who" of the jazz world, including Max Roach, Dexter Gordon, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Art Farmer, Sonny Stitt, Anthony Braxton, and The Art Ensemble of Chicago.
Roscoe Mitchell is an American composer, jazz instrumentalist, and educator, known for being "a technically superb – if idiosyncratic – saxophonist". The Penguin Guide to Jazz described him as "one of the key figures" in avant-garde jazz; All About Jazz stated in 2004 that he had been "at the forefront of modern music" for more than 35 years. Critic Jon Pareles in The New York Times has mentioned that Mitchell "qualifies as an iconoclast". In addition to his own work as a bandleader, Mitchell is known for cofounding the Art Ensemble of Chicago and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM).
Joseph Jarman was an American jazz musician, composer, poet, and Shinshu Buddhist priest. He was one of the first members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and a member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago.
Fred Anderson was an American jazz tenor saxophonist who was based in Chicago, Illinois. Anderson's playing was rooted in the swing music and hard bop idioms, but he also incorporated innovations from free jazz. Anderson was also noted for having mentored numerous young musicians. Critic Ben Ratliff called him "a father figure of experimental jazz in Chicago". Writer John Corbett referred to him as "scene caretaker, underground booster, indefatigable cultural worker, quiet force for good." In 2001, author John Litweiler called Anderson "the finest tenor saxophonist in free jazz/underground jazz/outside jazz today."
Fred Hopkins was a double bassist who played a major role in the development of the avant-garde jazz movement. He was best known for his association with the trio Air with Henry Threadgill and Steve McCall, and for his numerous performances and extensive recordings with major jazz musicians such as Muhal Richard Abrams, Arthur Blythe, Oliver Lake, and David Murray. He was a member of the AACM, and a frequent participant in the loft jazz scene of the 1970s. He also co-led a number of albums with the composer and cellist Diedre Murray. Gary Giddins wrote that Hopkins' playing "fused audacious power with mercuric reflexes." Howard Reich, writing in the Chicago Tribune, stated that "many connoisseurs considered [Hopkins] the most accomplished jazz bassist of his generation" and praised him for "the extraordinarily fluid technique, sumptuous tone and innovative methods he brought to his instrument."
Douglas R. Ewart is a multi-instrumentalist and instrument builder. He plays sopranino and alto saxophones, clarinets, bassoon, flute, bamboo flutes, and didgeridoo; as well as Rastafarian hand drums.
Edward L. Wilkerson Jr. is an internationally recognized American jazz composer, arranger, musician, and educator based in Chicago. As founder and director of the cutting-edge octet 8 Bold Souls, and the 25-member performance ensemble Shadow Vignettes, Wilkerson has toured festivals and concert halls throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, and the Middle East. "Defender", a large-scale piece for Shadow Vignettes, was commissioned by the Lila Wallace/Reader's Digest Fund and featured in the 10th Anniversary of New Music America, a presentation of BAM's Next Wave Festival.
Malachi Favors was an American jazz bassist who played with the Art Ensemble of Chicago.
Amina Claudine Myers is an American jazz pianist, organist, vocalist, composer, and arranger.
The Jazz Institute of Chicago is a non-profit arts presenting organization that produces jazz concerts and runs educational programs. It was founded in 1969 by a small band of jazz fans, writers, club owners, and musicians to preserve the historical roots of Chicago music and to ensure that the music would still be heard.
Thurman Barker is an American jazz drummer.
Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre was an American free jazz tenor saxophonist.
Steve McCall was an American jazz drummer.
Jodie Christian was an American jazz pianist, noted for bebop and free jazz.
Young at Heart/Wise in Time is an album by pianist/composer Muhal Richard Abrams released by the Delmark label in 1970 that featured an LP side-length solo piano composition and Abrams accompanied by Leo Smith, Henry Threadgill, Lester Lashley and Thurman Baker on the other side.
Roscoe Mitchell Quartet is an album by American jazz saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell recorded in 1975 and released on the Canadian Sackville label.
Artifacts is an album by a collective trio consisting of Nicole Mitchell on flute and electronics, Tomeka Reid on cello and Mike Reed on drums, which was recorded in 2015 and released on 482 Music. The trio, which Tomeka Reid conceived for a concert in Seattle early in 2015, was formed to celebrate the legacy of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians during its 50th anniversary, interpreting compositions by some of its members. Cover art by Lewis Achenbach, created live during the 50th anniversary of the AACM at Mandel Hall in Chicago.
Made in Chicago is a live album by drummer and composer Jack DeJohnette with fellow Chicagoan musicians pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, bassist Larry Gray and saxophonists Roscoe Mitchell and Henry Threadgill recorded at the 35th Chicago Jazz Festival in 2013 and released on the ECM label. The album documents the reunion of DeJohnette with colleagues from Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.
Reginald "Reggie" Nicholson is an American jazz drummer.