AACM Celebrates and Reflects on 50 Years of Jazz Devotion and Servitude

By Ian Holubiak on Mar 05, 2015 05:40 PM EST

Steeped in the rituals of ancient Africa and early traditions rooted in New Orleans music, Chicago jazz musicians are remembering the efforts of South Side musicians 50 years ago. Celebrating five decades, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) reflects on a rich history.

Much like the problems that find jazz musicians nowadays, the changing musical landscape of the time was shifting towards more youth-oriented genres like rock 'n' roll.

Had artists of the time conceded to the new climate, jazz might have "devolved into a nostalgia bath or succumbed to the commercial excesses of the fusion era that followed."

Pioneering AACM artists such as Muhal Richard Abrams, Henry Threadgill, Roscoe Mitchel, MacArthur Fellowship winner Anthony Braxton, Pulitzer Prize finalist Wadada Leo Smith, Nicole Mitchell, Kahil El'Zabar and other MacArthur Fellow George Lewis all command international followings.

In accordance, the organization has been able to thrive.

As the Chicago Tribune writes: "The idea of forging a singular sound and musical personality always has been central to jazz, dating back to its first great composer-intellectual, Jelly Roll Morton, and its first genius improviser, Louis Armstrong - both of New Orleans."

Thus, the AACM founders ascertained very individualistic approaches to music under duress. As it was in the '60s, the world of jazz was seemingly imploding.

So while the Village Vanguards of the world are unsure about their futures and while jazz struggles to stay afloat, an organization devoted to the continuation of jazz in all respects is not just a mission but a crusade.

For now, follow up on a co-founder below.

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TagsAssociation for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, New Orleans, Muhal Richard Abrams, Henry Threadgill, Roscoe Mitchel, Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith, Nicole Mitchell, George Lewis, Louis Armstrong

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