chapter  4
Sound Visions and Free Initiatives: The Cultural Politics of Creative Improvised Music Collectives
ByA. Scott Currie
Pages 25

From the Jazz Artists and Jazz Composers Guilds, through the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and the Black Artists Group, to the New Artists Guild, Free Music Productions and beyond, jazz collectives have long endeavored to redefine the meanings of creative improvisational practices and thereby restructure the relationships among artists, audiences and the broader music industry. Notwithstanding, though, the phenomenal success and notable longevity of such cooperative initiatives as the AACM or the Instant Composers Pool, collectives of improvising artists have most often struggled valiantly but vainly against the conflicts structured into the system of jazz production, with lasting victories relatively few and far between. In New York City, one of the epicenters of mass-market cultural capitalism, few collective organizations have survived long amid the intense competitive pressures that began to splinter apart even such seminal cooperatives as the Jazz Composers Guild apart almost as soon as they formed. Yet even in the more collaboratively oriented context of Berlin, where alternative socialist and communist paradigms of state support for the arts long held sway, collectives have had to reckon with many of the same centrifugal forces, which became increasingly powerful in the post-Transition era.