The DuSable Museum of African American History

FREE AT FIRST: The Audacious Journey of AACM

FREE AT FIRST: The Audacious Journey of AACM

Continuum – Photo by Lauren Deutsch

“FREE AT FIRST: The Audacious Journey of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians”

The phrase “Free At First” is meant to reflect the very birth of this organization was inclusive of the members of AACM, who were unfettered by convention and tradition and adopted a “free” style that recognized no boundaries and defied categorization. The AACM had the audacity to compose, perform, publish, own, and institutionalize their music and to prepare future exponents of their genre-bending, experimental form. Further supporting, rather than confining the individual, actually made room for individual freedom of expression.

“Free At First” is also a reference to the sense of liberty the founders and early members approached musical compositions, organizational concepts, and institution building – especially with the AACM School of Music. The scope of the exhibition is intended to provide the social framework, political climate, cultural milieu and the philosophical underpinnings within which this musician’s collective has thrived and survived – the only musicians’ collective still standing!

“Free At First” will be as broad and wide-ranging an exhibition as is the music created by the AACM. From historic and iconic photographs to a musical soundscape inclusive of AACM founders and the newest generation. From performance costumes and uniquely crafted awards of recognition to performance posters from around the globe. From a recreation of the famous Henry Threadgill “Hubkaphone” as an installation piece to be experienced by all visitors to a long ago silent film of Threadgill playing this unique instrument. Audience members will also be engaged in an exhibition game called, “Finding AACM” with questions and hints of where to find clues located somewhere throughout the exhibition.

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Chicago Community Trust


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