'Poets of Action': The Saint Louis Black Artists' Group, 1968-1972 (Part 4-4)
The early days of the AACM, as well as the school it ran, are described in John Litweiler, The Freedom Principle: Jazz After 1958 (New York: William Morrow and Co., 1984), pp. 173-84, and reciprocity agreements between collectives, including Detroit's Artists' Workshop, on p. 183. See, as well, the work of Ronald Radano on the AACM and on Anthony Braxton. On the AACM's relationship with Delmark Records and Downbeat, see Madden, p. 23. Robert Palmer's observations about the Hemphill album are from his liner notes to the Dogon A.D. re-release (1978, Arista 1028), reprinted in Setting the Tempo: Fifty Years of Great Jazz Liner Notes, ed. Tom Piazzo (New York: Anchor Books, 1996), pp. 244-5; the information about the Dogon ethnic group is also drawn from this piece, pp. 243-44.
The overview of the origins of BAG's theater component is based almost entirely on Malinké Eliot's tape recorded correspondence to the author, February 2001. The critical remarks on Jean Genet's play The Blacks are from Megan Conway and Joseph M. McMahon, "Jean Genet: 1910-1986," in French Novelists, 1930-1960: Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 72, ed. Catherine Savage Brosman (Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1988), p. 184. The importance of The Blacks to another of the period's black collectives (this one in Britain) is mentioned in Anne Walmsley, The Caribbean Artists Movement: 1966-1972 (London: New Beacon, 1993), p. 208. BAG's goal "to bring performances and arts instruction..." is from A Black Theater for St. Louis, p. 1. The list of the "variety of venues around town" is from Parran, "The St. Louis Black Artists' Group [BAG]."
The information on LaClede Town is from Ramin Bavar, "LaClede Town: an analysis of design and government policies in a government-sponsored project," unpublished Master's Thesis (St. Louis: Washington University School of Architecture, 1995), especially pp. 79 and 83-4; and John M. McGuire, "Farewell to Utopia: LaClede Town Was a '60s Vision or an Urban Paradise," St. Louis Post-Dispatch (12 February 1995), p. 1D; though neither of these pieces mentions BAG. Regarding the Circle Coffee House, see also Architectural Forum (Nov. 1968): pp. 60-61, and regarding Lake's early appearances there (as well as a more general overview of Lake's career), see Harper Barnes, "Jazz Threads Through Life of Oliver Lake," St. Louis Post-Dispatch (14 February 1993), p. 6D. On the three months free rent for musicians, Floyd LeFlore, interview by author. The notes on Hemphill's early career rely on Parran, "The St. Louis Black Artists Group (BAG)." Parran's recollection of the Hemphill and David Sanborn sax duo is from the interview by author.
Regarding the collectives' rejection of the club setting, see Madden, pp. 26-7, (from which are drawn the quotes "the illicit atmosphere of nightclubs" and "[R]ejecting traditional modes of jazz performance..."); and George E. Lewis, "Singing Omar's Song: A (Re)construction of Great Black Music," Lenox Avenue: a journal of interartistic inquiry (Vol. 4, 1998), p. 75, who describes the "club-oriented, 'set'-based notion of temporal restriction" as leading to the "commodification and ultimate objectification of the music." Regarding the collectives' voluntary behavioral codes, see Madden, pp. 22 and 26; and a brief discussion in relation to Sun Ra's Arkestra in John F. Szwed, Space is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra (Pantheon Books: New York, 1997), p. 117. Although many-if not all-BAG musicians appear to have had no problems with the terms "free" or "jazz" to describe at least some of their work, it must be noted that in the AACM and in the wider community of radical black musicians, one or both terms were often rejected for ideological reasons: see Lewis, pp. 81-6; and Michael J. Budds, "The Art Ensemble of Chicago in Context," Lenox Avenue: a journal of interartistic inquiry (Vol. 3, 1997), p. 66.