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A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music Paperback – October 15, 2009
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“An important book. . . . Mr. Lewis narrates its development with exacting context and incisive analysis, occasionally delving into academic cultural theory. But because the book includes biographical portraits of so many participating musicians, it’s a swift, engrossing read.”
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Lewis has done a ton and a half of research. He writes like a dream (with the very occasional exception of some congealed jargon from the humanities). And his analysis is hugely intelligent: you can actually see how some of the most important musical innovations of the twentieth century emerged from a social network. (Yes, sure, the network was chock full of really talented musicians. But it doesn't look as though any one of them could have pulled off these musical breakthoughs alone.) And you see how race and racism have structured the production and reception of music -- not with handwaving slogans, but with the patient analysis of richly detailed history.
So many books about "jazz" -- and I guarantee that if you read this, you'll have to think hard about what counts as "jazz," what as "art music" or "serious music" or "new music" or just plain "music," and why -- are breathless and kinda dumb. This one is emphatically the opposite. It's a fat book, and still it's a delight to read. I put it down wanting more.
George Lewis is of course himself an AACM member and an astonishingly talented trombonist. He does a lovely job inserting himself into the text when he belongs there, with neither ritual self-deprecation nor arrogant boasting.
If you're curious about Lewis's music, I'd start with his work with Anthony Braxton (track down Dortmund '76, a quartet with Dave Holland and Barry Altschul: boy it would be nice to see a reunion of those guys, *not* to do retreads on their amazing work from the '70s, but to explore where they are now musically), John Lindberg's Give and Take, the Black Saint dates under his own name, and, also under his own name, Voyager, with Roscoe Mitchell and a computer Lewis programmed to interact with the musicians.
The guy is a superb author and a superb musician. Wow.
I also want to emphasize the humanity of the book.Read more ›
George Lewis -- trombonist, AACM member, composer and scholar, now Professor of American Music and Director of the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University -- has written the definitive history of the AACM, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, founded in early 1965 in Chicago by Richard Abrams (piano), Jodie Christian (piano), Phil Cohran (trumpet), and Steve McCall (percussion). It is altogether appropriate that the 500-plus page book is published by the University of Chicago Press, one of the finest academic publishers in the country, as the campus is on the South Side near the beginning of the events chronicled. Though Lewis joined the AACM in 1971, and headed the organization briefly, he does not rely only on his personal experience for the book. Instead, he uses primary sources and extensive interviews. This is a rigorous, thorough work of history.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
actually got the book for a good friend of mine..She actually knows the author personally, and other people that were mentioned in there as well..She was so excited to receive itPublished on October 2, 2013 by Charlotte Suber
If you want to know about the history of Afro-American experimental music, you need to know about Chicago and the AACM, and this book is the definitive history. Read morePublished on December 13, 2012 by Amazon Customer
This is a good historical account of the AACM, which I am a huge fan. I love Braxton's Creative Music Orchestra 76 and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Read morePublished on June 7, 2012 by S. schreiner