Celebrating Sonic Experimentation at the Chicago Jazz Festival (via WSJ)

The 37th Chicago Jazz Festival concluded Sunday night at Millennium Park with a rare performance by the Experimental Band led by pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, and in its four-day run the annual event highlighted and reinforced several important trends in jazz.

The festival celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, a group formed by Mr. Abrams and three other composers to nurture the ideas of and offer performances by local musicians whose interests extended beyond the jazz mainstream. The organization quickly grew into an international phenomenon, and key members like Mr. Abrams, saxophonist Henry Threadgill, trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, the members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and others became recognized both in jazz and contemporary classical music. The group stressed an inclusive approach. The Art Ensemble’s motto was “great black music from the ancient to the future,” and its repertoire included homages to jazz greats Miles Davis and Charles Mingus, two devout critics of the genre’s avant garde.

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