AACM | Nate Chinen on Roscoe Mitchell's Day Off

For Ars Nova Workshop's AACM: Great Black Music Festival, we've asked several leading jazz scholars and journalists to engage performers in a series of pre-concert public discussions about the history, present, and future of the AACM. On Sunday, June 12 at Settlement Music School, New York Times music writer Nate Chinen will talk with first generation AACM member Roscoe Mitchell, whose Sound Ensemble will perform following the discussion. Chinen made the following post on his blog, The Gig.

If you're reading this, you probably know it's a busy time for jazz. So I'll keep this brief. On Sunday evening at 6 p.m., I'll be moderating a conversation with saxophonist, composer and AACM heavyweight Roscoe Mitchell, at Settlement Music School in Philadelphia. The talk (which is free) will precede an 8 p.m. performance by his Sound Ensemble (which isn't). It's part of a weekend-long Mitchell residency, within a larger AACM series, presented by Ars Nova Workshop.

Roscoe Mitchell is, of course, a fiercely individual thinker and creative force, and while I haven't yet had the honor of interviewing him, I have heard him speak on a few occasions. The most memorable of these was during a symposium in Guelph, Ontario, in 2005. That was for a 40th-anniversary celebration for the AACM; during the same weekend, Mitchell also performed with the Art Ensemble of Chicago and in duo with Pauline Oliveros. (I wrote about it in JazzTimes.)

Incidentally, the other night I was at the Vision Festival speaking with Yulun Wang of Pi Recordings, which has released albums by the Art Ensemble as well as Mitchell's collaboration with two fellow AACM stalwarts, pianist Muhal Richard Abrams and George Lewis. The subject of AACM commemoration came up, and I naturally mentioned the classic John Hughes film Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Yulun didn't know what I was talking about, which led me to believe that this bit of trivia might not be as well-known as I'd thought.

A few years ago this movie was on TV and I caught a little detail in the Chicago parade scene. Look at the banners that go by during Matthew Broderick's slow ride on the float. It's hard to make out in this grainy YouTube transfer, but they read "AACM 20," next to an image of a bassist -- Fred Hopkins? Anyone have the DVD? Anyone?

This makes sense, as the movie was filmed in 1985, when the city of Chicago would have been celebrating the AACM's 20th anniversary. So we have serendipity and location shooting to thank for the only mention of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians in a top-grossing Hollywood movie. (Of course I'm not counting the Anthony Braxton cameo, as a blackjack dealer, in Ocean's 12.)

No, I do not plan on discussing this with Roscoe Mitchell.

While we're on the subject of jazz commemoration, though, I should also note that tomorrow, Saturday, marks the 15th annual Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards. It's at City Winery, and I believe tickets are still available. In addition to the bestowing of awards, the event will feature performances by Randy Weston, Wallace Roney, Gregory Porter, Jane Bunnett and others. I'll be there. How about you?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? ...Bueller? ...Bueller?