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AACM: 50 Years of Artist Dedication

August 31, 2015

The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) was founded in Chicago, IL in 1965.  The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, New York City Chapter Inc. was founded in 1983.  The AACM New York City Chapter functions as an ensemble of composers and performers whose mission is to present concerts that feature world premieres of original musical compositions.

The AACM is significantly unique in that it has nurtured and brought to fruition so many accomplished composers and performers including: Dr. Muhal Richard Abrams, Peggy Abrams, Richarda Abrams, Fred Anderson, Anthony Braxton, Thurman Barker, Lester Bowie, Steve Colson, Iqua Colson, Kelan Phillip Cohran, Jodie Christian, Kalaparusha Ahra Difda, Malachi Favors, Frank Gordon, Fred Hopkins, Joseph Jarman, Leroy Jenkins, Leonard Jones, George Lewis, Roscoe Mitchell, Amina Claudine Myers, LaRoy Wallace McMillan, Steve McCall, Don Moye,  Reggie Nicholson,  Wadada Leo Smith, John Stubblefield and Henry Threadgill.   The strength of the AACM is reflected in the ability of its members to not only continue to make substantial contributions to the world of contemporary music, but also to be an inspiration to others throughout the international music community.

Our 2014-2015 season consisted of three concerts that featured the music of four renowned contemporary composers:  guest composer Marty Ehrlich, AACM composer Thurman Barker, AACM composer Muhal Richard Abrams and guest composer Oliver Lake.  All concert  programs were held at The Community Church of New York, 40 E. 35th St. New York, NY 10016.

On September 12, 2014, The AACM presented the music of Marty Ehrlich and Thurman Barker.

Part I featured the Marty Ehrlich Trio Exaltation, (John Hebert, bass), (Matt Wilson, drums), and (Marty Ehrlich, clarinet and flute).

Marty Ehrlich-Clarinet, Matt Wilson-Drums, John Herbert-Bass

Marty Ehrlich-Clarinet, Matt Wilson-Drums, John Herbert-Bass

The repertoire performed by the Marty Ehrlich Trio Exaltation was:

  1. My Song, written by Marty Ehrlich
  2. Dusk, written by the late, great, pianist/composer Andrew Hill
  3. I Don’t Know The World Without Don Cherry, written by Marty Ehrlich (a very fitting tribute to the late innovative trumpeter)
  1. Aeolus, written by Thomas Chapin
  2. Yes Yes, written by Marty Ehrlich
  3. Twelve Arthur, written by Marty Ehrlich

The perceptive interplay between the Trio members in these performances was quite unique and extremely complimentary to the structure of the repertoire.

When asked about the overall design of the program, Marty Ehrlich’s statement was: “I have always been drawn to having a range of musical languages and forms to engage with in my musical presentations. Some might call this range musical style, but I think of it as an ever-widening musical field, which you explore with emotional and creative intention. Since forming Trio Exaltation last year, I have used the idea of a continuous set in concert, where each composition, regardless of whether it sets up a song form or an open space, transitions into the next, connected by improvisations. The ordering of the compositions becomes itself a form of composition.  In the flow of the set, this range and ordering sets up an expressive resonance which brings, in hope,  both the performers and the listeners deeper into the moment of musical creation.”

Part II featured the Thurman Barker Ensemble, (Thurman Barker, drums, marimba, and percussion), (Patience Higgins, tenor and soprano saxophones), (Lonnie Gasperini, Hammond B3 organ), (Noah Barker, piano and percussion), and (Gwen Laster, violin).

Thurman Barker

The repertoire performed by the Thurman Barker Ensemble was:

South Side Suite

  1. Green Suite, written by Thurman Barker
  2. Dreams, written by Thurman Barker
  3. Chicago Winds, written by Thurman Barker

The magnificent performance of this music was marked by the precision of the ensemble interplay as well as the creative improvisational textures and sound colors.

When asked about the plan of the program, Thurman Barker’s comment was: “This is the premiere of a suite that was written in 4 parts for quintet featuring woodwinds, guitar, piano, bass, drums & percussion.  Southside Suite was inspired by the rich musical culture that I was a part of during the 60’s in Chicago.  This piece was written as a reflection of the many sounds I heard and played growing up on the South Side.  The score was designed for the drummer to act as a lead player as well as accompaniment and soloist.”

*  *  *

On October 24, 2014, the AACM presented Dr. Muhal Richard Abrams in a performance of his Quintpano 1 and Quintpano 2.

Muhal Richard Abrams, Bryan Carrott, Dayna Stevens, Lindsey Horner, and Reggie Nicholson

Muhal Richard Abrams, Bryan Carrott, Dayna Stevens, Lindsey Horner, and Reggie Nicholson

Scene 1 featured Dr. Muhal Richard Abrams performing Quintpano 1, as a solo piano opening.

Scene 2 featured the Muhal Richard Abrams Quintet in a performance of Quintpano 2.

(Dr. Muhal Richard Abrams, piano), (Bryan Carrott, vibes), (Dayna Stevens, tenor saxophone), (Lindsey Horner, bass), and (Reggie Nicholson, drums)

Dr. Abrams’ solo performance in Scene 1 was a tour de force in improvisational creativity. The thematic material developed in this part of the concert served as a fitting prologue to Scene 2.

The Quintet performances in Scene 2 began with brief solo performances by each member in the Quintet and gradually merged into a variety of duet, trio, and quartet combinations. Ultimately the forgoing activity culminated in a Quintet collage that produced a kaleidoscopic array of rhythms and sound colors. For the closing, a reverse order of appearances by the musicians was employed so that the performance ended with one soloist who finally created the finale.

Dr. Abrams’ comment regarding the program was: “Quintpano is a piece that was written as a music/dramatic statement with 2 Scenes, whereas, the dramatic content occurs as a result of dramatic interpretation of the musical statements. Scene 1 was created for solo piano, where the piano improvises a variety of music dialogues that will ultimately be extended by the Quintet in Scene 2, where an assortment of instrument combinations are used to create a diverse procession of sound and rhythmic conversation.

* * *

On November 7, 2014, the AACM presented the music of Oliver Lake.

Anthony Ware-Alto Saxophone, Oliver Lake-Alto Saxophone, Darius Jones-Alto Saxophone, Bruce Williams-Alto Saxophone

Anthony Ware-Alto Saxophone, Oliver Lake-Alto Saxophone, Darius Jones-Alto Saxophone, Bruce Williams-Alto Saxophone

Part I “Alto Madness”

(Oliver Lake, alto saxophone), (Darius Jones, alto saxophone), (Bruce Williams, alto saxophone), (Anthony Ware, alto saxophone), and (Pheeroan Aklaff, drums)

The repertoire for Part 1 was:

  1. Improv, written by Oliver Lake
  2. Aztec, written by Oliver Lake
  3. Alto Madness #1, written by Oliver Lake
  4. Vamp, written by Oliver Lake
  5. Alto Madness #2, written by Oliver Lake

Part 2 “Alto  Madness”

(Oliver Lake, alto saxophone), (Darius Jones, alto saxophone), (Bruce Williams, alto saxophone), (Anthony Ware, alto saxophone), and (Pheeroan Aklaff, drums)

The repertoire for Part 2 was:

  1. Bonu, written by Oliver Lake
  2. Alto Madness #4, written by Oliver Lake
  3. Net Down, written by Oliver Lake
  4. Alto Madness #3, written by Oliver Lake

The acoustical effect of the colors that emanated from this group of alto saxophones and percussion was very impressive. At times one got the impression of an acapella vocal ensemble.  Additionally, the individual improvisational prowess of each musician accentuated the constant panorama of textures that pervaded the sound space.

When asked to comment on the program Mr. Lake’s statement was: “What a pleasure to hear and perform my new compositions for one of my most recent projects.”

The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, New York City Chapter Inc., would like to extend its thanks to the Carey Trust for its assistance in helping our organization present these very important programs.