“Area by Area the Machine Unfolds”

Since their emergence from the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) in the 1960s, the members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago have created a distinctive multidisciplinary performance practice centered on collective improvisation. In this article, Steinbeck conceptualizes Art Ensemble improvisations as networks of group interactions, and he analyzes an excerpt from a 1972 Art Ensemble concert recording using a phenomenological perspective informed by his conversations with the group about the performance and by my own experience as an improvised-music practitioner.

Review-Derek Bailey and the Story of Free Improvisation


One gets the sense that Ben Watson is itching for a fight, given his writerly penchant for polemic and confrontation. Readers of Derek Bailey and the Story of Free Improvisation don't have to wade into his 400-plus page biography of the great British guitarist, however, to perceive Watson's put-up-your-dukes method of critical inquiry: The story of "Free Improvisation"?

O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing: Anthony Braxton’s Speculative Music

In this article, composer and educator Mike Heffley analyzes the libretto and score of a Braxton's magnum opus, the opera Trillium R (Shala Fears for the Poor) of 1991. With the term "speculative music,"  Heffley designates music as a "speculum," or a mirror of the natural world or cosmic order. Heffley considers the opera's libretto in the context of the entire corpus of Braxton's writings, particularly his Tri-Axium Writings of 1985. Heffley argues that Braxton's use of language is "a driving force behind, first, his music, and, further, his body of work as a whole . . ."

New Monastery: Monk and the Jazz Avant-Garde


Kelly argues that Thelonious Monk's popular success, along with the emergence of free jazz in the 1960s, changed the terms of critical reception for the previously misunderstood composer and pianist. Conservative critics, and some liberal ones, suddenly embraced Monk as a foil against the free jazz rebellion, while defenders of the avant-garde often sought to claim Monk as one of their own-though these younger musicians sometimes challenged Monk's musical conceptions.

The Challenge of the Changing Same: The Jazz Avant-Garde of the 1960s, the Black Aesthetic, and the Black Arts Movement

Robinson focuses on the relationship between writers associated with the Black Arts Movement (including Amiri Baraka, Addison Gayle, Jr., Hoyt Fuller, Larry Neal, Ishmael Reed, and James Stewart) and the experimental jazz of the 1960s. The Black Arts Movement looked to black musical expression as a site of authentic artistic "blackness." Robinson asserts, however, that the literati of this movement may have actually essentialized the black subject and obscured the diverse range of protest originating from the musical arena.

“’How You Sound??’: Amiri Baraka Writes Free Jazz.”

Harris' essay examines the ways authors Amiri Baraka and Ishmael Reed translated elements of jazz-particularly free jazz-into literary expression. Baraka believed that free jazz captured what was most valuable in the black tradition and updated it to respond to contemporary phenomena. Harris makes reference to the authors' written work and to Baraka's actual spoken performances.


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White Anglo-Saxon Pythagorean (Roswell Rudd)


Rudd's facility on the trombone and range of timbral effects placed him among the vanguard of the free jazz movement in the 1960s. It was rare at that time to find a trombonist who, according to Davis, could compete with "saxophonists who were bidding their horns to speak in tongues." Rudd nevertheless later experienced the economic consequences of staying dedicated to his art: Davis finds him playing in a Catskills resort in the early 1990s.


Out There (Charles Gayle)


Charles Gayle was uncompromising even by the standards of free jazz, and his career has been virtually invisible. Davis recounts a brief interview with the elusive saxophonist and reviews his three comeback CDs and a rare appearance at New York's Knitting Factory. Davis' portrait of Gayle illustrates how he became a legend in the mid-1960s, when Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp were making their mark, and why he still amazes.


Monk's Music: Thelonious Monk and Jazz History in the Making


In this book, Solis looks beyond the challenges of Monk's playing and composing, and his uncompromising artistic stance, to grapple with lingering questions about Monk's life and music. He examines a wealth of documents and recordings newly available to explore these questions and to illustrate the significance of Monk's work for the study of jazz. The excerpt featured here presents a brief synopsis of Monk's life and explains the uneven trajectory of his career and public reception.


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