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Message to Our FolksThe Art Ensemble of Chicago$
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Paul Steinbeck

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226375960

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226376011.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Message to Our Folks

Paul Steinbeck

University of Chicago Press

The members of the Art Ensemble belonged to the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), an African American community organization on Chicago’s South Side. Formed in 1965, the AACM was the most influential artists’ collective in jazz and experimental music, and the Art Ensemble was its flagship band, the first AACM group to tour the world and record for major labels. The Art Ensemble’s model of social relations, adapted from the AACM, made all of these accomplishments possible. Although AACM musicians composed and performed in many different styles, they were bound together by a shared commitment to support one another’s creative explorations. Drawing on the Association’s example, the members of the Art Ensemble established their own social model based on the practices of cooperation and personal autonomy. The Art Ensemble’s revolutionary musical practices were also rooted in the early discoveries of the Association. In the 1960s, AACM members devised new means of integrating improvisation and composition, hybrid modes of music-making not previously envisioned by jazz players or experimentalist composers. The Art Ensemble took AACM-style hybridity to a new level, developing a unique performance practice that combined group improvisation with intermedia and a large repertoire of written compositions.

Keywords:   AACM, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, composition, experimental music, improvisation, intermedia, jazz, social model, social practices

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