Race, community, and conflict in the jazz composers guild.
Jazz Perspectives, 3, (3), . (doi:10.1080/17494060903454529).
Following the success of his avant-garde festival, “The October Revolution in Jazz,”
trumpeter and composer Bill Dixon founded the Jazz Composers Guild in the fall of
1964. The organization included Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra, Paul and Carla Bley, Archie
Shepp, Roswell Rudd, Burton Greene, and John Tchicai, among others. One of the first
significant attempts at self-determination by jazz musicians, the Guild sought to reori-
ent the exploitative working conditions of the major clubs and record companies by
producing its own concerts in venues across New York City. The Guild competed for
leadership of the jazz underground with Amiri Baraka, the writer and critic associated
with the Black Arts Movement, and with Bernard Stollman, a lawyer and owner of the
free jazz record label ESP-Disk. The conflicts that arose between these three poles of
organization, as well as within the Guild itself, were often the results of incompatible
discourses of race. Critical race theorist Ruth Frankenberg’s useful concepts of “power-
evasiveness,” “color-evasiveness,” and “race-cognizance” are employed here as a means
to help make sense of the different ideologies at work in the 1960s jazz avant garde.
Actions (login required)