Formation May 1965 (1965-05)
Headquarters Illinois, United States
|Predecessor Experimental Band|
Location Chicago, Illinois
Type Nonprofit organization
|Purpose Support and encourage jazz performers, composers and educators|
Founders Phil Cohran, Fred Anderson, Muhal Richard Abrams, Jodie Christian
Associated acts Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, Lester Bowie, Joseph Jarman, Leroy Jenkins
Similar Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell, Art Ensemble of Chicago, George Lewis, Anthony Braxton
The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) is a non-profit organization, founded in Chicago, Illinois, United States, by pianist/composer Muhal Richard Abrams, pianist Jodie Christian, drummer Steve McCall, and composer Phil Cohran. Early members included Henry Threadgill, Anthony Braxton, Jack DeJohnette, Wadada Leo Smith, Leroy Jenkins, Amina Claudine Myers, Adegoke Steve Colson, Chico Freeman, George Lewis and the Art Ensemble of Chicago: Lester Bowie, Roscoe Mitchell, Joseph Jarman, Famoudou Don Moye, and Malachi Favors. 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. While founded in the Jazz tradition, the groups 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. Musicians like 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 would create scores that blended music, geometry, painting, and ciphers to be interpreted by the performers live. The AACM was part of a larger artistic movement on Chicago's South Side that included AFRICobra (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists) and various other artist collectives. Together the organizations forged spaces for performance, education, composition and discussion, fueling black collectivity through creativity, and more specifically, the improvisatory act itself.
(This list is probably incomplete.)