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Race, community, and conflict in the jazz composers guild

By Benjamin Piekut


Following the success of his avant-garde festival, “The October Revolution in Jazz,” <br/>trumpeter and composer Bill Dixon founded the Jazz Composers Guild in the fall of <br/>1964. The organization included Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra, Paul and Carla Bley, Archie <br/>Shepp, Roswell Rudd, Burton Greene, and John Tchicai, among others. One of the first <br/>significant attempts at self-determination by jazz musicians, the Guild sought to reori- <br/>ent the exploitative working conditions of the major clubs and record companies by <br/>producing its own concerts in venues across New York City. The Guild competed for <br/>leadership of the jazz underground with Amiri Baraka, the writer and critic associated <br/>with the Black Arts Movement, and with Bernard Stollman, a lawyer and owner of the <br/>free jazz record label ESP-Disk. The conflicts that arose between these three poles of <br/>organization, as well as within the Guild itself, were often the results of incompatible <br/>discourses of race. Critical race theorist Ruth Frankenberg’s useful concepts of “power- <br/>evasiveness,” “color-evasiveness,” and “race-cognizance” are employed here as a means <br/>to help make sense of the different ideologies at work in the 1960s jazz avant garde

Topics: M1
Year: 2009
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Provided by: e-Prints Soton

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