Sunday, October 28, 2012

Great Black Music

I was fortunate enough to attend the first night of this 1977 concert series. Braxton's
collaborative group with Jenkins and Smith was stellar
. They had recorded for Delmark
a decade earlier. Music, as the AACM would later say, stronger than itself!

I have a truckload of jazz ephemera from my days living in Chicago and New York, and I've been thinking I should post some of it here on Gems. Even though this is supposed to be a blog that shares rare and unusual recordings with its visitors, every now and then I can't resist posting some visual stuff. So here is a selection of posters and flyers from some noteworthy but mostly undocumented jazz performances. I thought for this first installment I'd concentrate on Chicago and shows by members of the revolutionary Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.

Many of these concerts I attended, and all of them are a testament to the dedication of some great players who were in the music solely to advance tradition, art and culture. By the time I was in Chicago, the first-string AACMers had mostly decamped to New York. But there remained some very fine players, some of whom are represented here. To wit:

This Joseph Jarman performance comes from 1975. A show done
a year later at the University of Chicago was the first jazz concert
I saw after moving to the city. That solo show
was later released 
on the Art Ensembles' own label, AECO.
This performance by multi-reed player and flute maker
Douglas Ewart took place in 1977. The concerts below, featuring

Ewart's adventurous clarinet choir, were also held that year.
I missed this one, unfortunately. George Lewis was (is)
an amazing trombonist, electronics wizard, philosopher,
theoretician and – now – author and historian. He and

Douglas Ewart worked together quite often in the late
'70s. This show is from 1977.
Here's Chicago's first couple of creative music. Later the 
Colsons made occasional appearances in New York, and
eventually moved there in the '80s.
I saw this solo concert. Lester divided the performance into
two sets – the first consisted of free-from improvisation and
the second a reinterpretation of a number of jazz classics.
His rendition of Miles' "Walkin'" – replete with walking – 
was hilarious!
Ken Cheney is one of the less well known AACM members,
he's been a fixture on the Chicago scene since the '60s.
works most often with reed player Mwata Bowden.
This series was from 1977. Ed Wilkerson was one of the
younger AACM members at the time and was just
beginning to display his talents as a composer and
arranger. He often partnered with Light Henry Huff.
Kahil el-Zabar was the AACM's chief percussionist – and I
don't believe I ever saw him play a trap set. This concert
was a one-time event, and the group was a superb one.
Ari Brown went to work with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers
not long after this performance.
The Underground Festival was organized as a counterpart
to the recently created Chicago Jazz Festival. The bands
featured were all from the creative music community,
mostly AACM groups, and the shows were very successful.
I saw Threadgill's legendary Sextet(t) and they were even
better than they were on record.
Here's one of Ed Wilkerson's early bands, Shadow Vignettes.
He later put together Eight Bold Souls, featuring many of
the AACM's younger members. I always loved Ed's approach
as he brought a welcome bit of levity to the often overly
serious attitude surrounding the new music. These shows
were from 1981.
Back in the 1970s, many AACM concerts took place at the
University of Chicago. The university's radio station had a
number of knowledgeable DJs who were fans of the new
music, and they often promoted shows like this one by AEC
drummer Don Moye and Von Freeman's son, Chico.

That's just a sampling of some of the music that could be heard in Chicago in the late '70s and early '80s. Audiences for creative music were small but enthusiastic, and there were a number of sympathetic journalists who respectfully reported on AACM doings for the Chicago Reader, Down Beat and even the straight dailies. While I was a student at the U. of C., I attended as many shows as I could and experienced many memorable moments. 

Occasionally a recording of one or another of these concerts would come my way, and I thought since this is indeed a music blog, I'd share an excerpt from one of them. It's from another University of Chicago show, done on February 11, 1977, and features Don Moye's Malinke Trio. The late reed player and composer, Julius Hemphill, is the trio's prominent soloist for the opening part of the performance. Next comes a bass-and-drum duet demonstrating Favors' big sound. Then it's Moye who takes over with an extraordinary display of his precussion skills on conga. I doubt this group existed beyond this one performance, but the cohesion exhibited is a testament to the musical prowess of the players. Don Moye later had a drum ensemble called Malinke, but this trio may be one of the first examples of a Famoudou group with that name.

A caveat: The recording quality of this aged dub is not the best. I've doctored it a bit, but there's still some wow-and-flutter, background noise and other audio flaws. The music, as always, is amazing so I hope you'll pardon any sonic imperfections.

Malinke Trio
Don Moye
Julius Hemphill, sopranino, as, fl; Malachi Favors, b; Don Moye, d, conga, perc.
University of Chicago, Chicago, IL; February 11, 1977

1. Alto solo #1, trio
2. Bass and drum duet
3. Alto solo#2, trio
4. Alto and drums duet
5. Sopranino and conga duet

Find it here:


  1. fantastic osters and music thank you !!

  2. Great posters. I only have two of them, but do have many others, not shown.

    1. You must be a Chicago guy, R.H. We probably went to many of the same concerts! I too have loads more of these flyers, some quite funky and others very elaborate. Maybe one day I'll do a second posting of a few more. Thanks for getting in touch.