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Interpretations concert series celebrates The AACM at 50

Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians celebrates its 50th anniversary in May, and New York’s Interpretations concert series is starting the party early next month with a programme of events featuring music and performances by some of the AACM’s major players

Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians celebrates its 50th anniversary in May, and New York’s Interpretations concert series is starting the party early next month with a programme of events featuring music and performances by some of the AACM’s major players.

The AACM was formed in May 1965 as a community music organisation dedicated "to nurturing, performing, and recording serious, original music”; it has since incubated some of the most significant figures in the African-American avant garde, from The Art Ensemble Of Chicago to Matana Roberts. Interpretations’ director is the avant garde baritone singer Thomas Bruckner, who has a long association with various AACM members and who also runs the Mutable Music label. In March Bruckner gives a concert at New York’s Roulette space featuring works specially written for him by AACM members, including cofounder Muhal Richard Abrams, The Art Ensemble’s Roscoe Mitchell, Leroy Jenkins, Wadada Leo Smith and Henry Threadgill. The series begins in February with performances by groups led by pianist Amina Claudine Myers and percussionist Thurman Barker. Future concerts will feature The SEM Ensemble, led by New York based Czech composer Petr Kotik, performing works by Abrams, Mitchell and AACM biographer George Lewis alongside pieces by John Cage and Christian Wolff.

The series is notable for the way it bridges the divide between the US experimental music community and the African-American avant garde, a schism articulated in Lewis’s 2008 book A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM And American Experimental Music.

Meanwhile, according to the AACM website, preparations for the organisation’s own anniversary celebrations are underway and will take the form of “a worldwide celebration of musical presentations, installations, exhibitions and more. This year long celebration will honour, reflect and advance the organisation’s contributions to the world's musical landscape.”