Symposium on the AACM

Monday, 17 October 2015, from 9:45 AM to 4:00 PM
at the University of Chicago, Center in Paris, 6 rue Thomas Mann, Paris 13ème

Members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) have been forming, deforming and transforming commonly received notions of music since 1965. Founded in the South Side of Chicago, the AACM has helped shape a new understanding of what some have called “Great Black Music.”

As part of the association’s 50th anniversary, the Théâtre de la Ville de Paris, in partnership with Festival d’Automne and Théâtre du Châtelet will organize a special concert on Monday, October 19, 2015, bringing together four major figures of the AACM and their ensembles—three of whom have contributed to reshaping avant-garde music and art in Chicago and beyond: Wadada Leo Smith Golden Quartet; Henry Threadgill & Double-Up; Roscoe Mitchell in duet with Mike Reed, one of the main artists and activists from the next generation.

Organized in conjunction with this special concert, this symposium will explore the AACM and its legacy from a variety of perspectives (musicology, aesthetics, anthropology, philosophy, political theory and history). Scholars will discuss, debate, and analyze how the AACM musicians contributed to redefining such notions as “artistic creation” as compared to “cultural invention,” or as improvisation and extended composition in light of the historical context of the Civil rights movement, the Black Power movement, to today.


Opening Remarks: Jean-Louis Comolli

10h à 12h30
Roundtable #1 Essais sur l’AACM, une esthétique du divers, with Francesco Martinelli, Robert O’Meally, & Henry Threadgill participating—moderated by Alexandre Pierrepont

Lunch Break

14h à 16h
Roundtable #2 L’AACM, la production d’un contre-espace, with Yves Citton, Michael Dawson, Nicole Mitchell, & Mike Reed participating—moderated by Alexandre Pierrepont


Yves Citton, Professor of French Literature at the Université Stendhal Grenoble 3

Jean-Louis Comolli, director, screenwriter, film historian, co-author (with Philippe Carles) of Free Jazz / Black Power, he was editor in chief of Cahiers du Cinéma and teaches at FEMIS at the University of Paris 8, in Barcelona.

Michael Dawson, John D. MacArthur Professor of Political Science and the College at the University of Chicago; Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture, University of Chicago

Francesco Martinelli, Historian, scholar, consultant and teacher at the Izmir Avrupa Jazz Festival and at the Livorno Music Conservatory

Nicole Mitchell, musician, AACM, Professor of Music & core faculty member of the Integrated Composition Improvisation and Technology (ICIT) PhD program at Claire Trevor School of Arts, University of California, Irvine

Robert O’Meally, Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English; Founder and former director of the Center for Jazz Studies, Columbia University

Alexandre Pierrepont has a PhD in social and cultural anthropology and teaches at the University of Paris 7 - Denis Diderot, Sciences Po, and in the Columbia-Penn French Cultural Studies Programs in Paris.

Mike Reed, musician, AACM

Henry Threadgill, musician, AACM

More information:

Download the complete schedule of events for Théâtre de la Ville’s CHICAGO À PARIS (PDF).

View the Théâtre de la Ville’s poster for CHICAGO À PARIS (PDF).