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By George E. Lewis

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Founded in 1965 and nonetheless lively at the present time, the organization for the development of artistic Musicians (AACM) is an American establishment with a global acceptance. George E. Lewis, who joined the collective as in 1971, establishes the entire value and energy of the AACM with this communal background, written with a symphonic sweep that pulls on a cross-generational refrain of voices and a wealthy number of infrequent images.

Moving from Chicago to long island to Paris, and from founding member Steve McCall’s kitchen desk to Carnegie corridor, A strength more suitable Than Itself uncovers a colourful, multicultural universe and brings to mild an enormous piece of the background of avant-garde song and art.

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

Sample text

Instead of repairing decaying housing infrastructure or encouraging black outmigration, however, governmental authorities built enormous “projects” within the existing Black Belt to warehouse the black population. 14 When the first of these projects, the Ida B. Wells Homes on East 39th Street, opened in 1941, over seventeen thousand applications were received for just sixteen hundred units. Among the successful applicants was the future Willa McCall, who had come to Chicago as a toddler from North Carolina in 1916.

In fact, some musicians adopted both positions simultaneously, a stance that was certainly not limited to African Americans. For example, a manifesto such as John Cage’s Silence, with its articulation of a pan-European intellectual history that became naturalized as constitutive of an overall American musical identity, is as starkly culturally nationalist as anything published during the heyday of the Black Arts Movement. The creation of the long-lived and still-controversial AACM-identified slogan, “Great Black Music,” arose during this period.

The jazz writer Stanley Dance was evidently a devotee of this approach, judging from his critique of two jazz studies anthologies published in the 1990s by film scholar Krin Gabbard, Representing Jazz and Jazz among the Discourses: There is original thought here, but the reader is immediately confronted by the language academics apparently use to communicate with one another. Sometimes it reads like a translation from the German, at others that they are merely trying to impress or indulging in a verbal cutting contest.

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