About Us

Internationally renowned for unparalleled contributions to modern music, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Inc. (AACM) has been an inspirational leader within the cultural community since 1965. A non-profit organization chartered by the State of Illinois , the AACM is a collective of musicians and composers dedicated to nurturing, performing, and recording serious, original music. This collective of dynamic and visionary artists formed the AACM to meet their emergent needs to expose and showcase their original compositions and to create an outlet for the development and performance of their music.

Since its inception, one mission of the AACM has been to provide an atmosphere conducive to the development of its member artists and to continue the AACM legacy of providing leadership and vision for the development of creative music. The AACM first coined the phrase Great Black Music to describe its unique direction in music. The AACM pays homage to the diverse styles of expression within the body of Black Music in the USA, Africa and throughout the world. This experience extends from the ancient musics of Africa to the music of the future.

The AACM may best be known for its leading-edge public concerts featuring some of the most accomplished, versatile and innovative musicians performing original creative music. The organization takes particular pride in developing new generations of talent through the free music training program conducted by members for city youth, the AACM School of Music. Another equally important aspect of AACM 's mission is the high moral standard members seek to provide in their capacities as performers, artists, teachers and role models.

The AACM has continuously achieved international recognition for its contributions in modern music.AACM groups have performed in Moscow, Japan, Europe, Africa, and the USA. Members are regularly awarded grants and commissions to compose music for solo instrument, small ensemble and full orchestra. In 1990, AACM co-founder Muhal Richard Abrams was the recipient of the prestigious Jazzpar Award in Denmark to compose for the Danish Orchestra. AACM member Lester Bowie composed and performed the theme music for The Cosby Show seen on network television. In 1990 the City of Chicago saw fit to honor the AACM by dedicating an evening at the 1990 Chicago Jazz Festival to the music an members of the organization. In 1995, member Anthony Braxton was awarded a "Genius" Grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

With the aid of the MacArthur Foundation and Columbia College in Chicago, the AACM produced its 1990 25th Anniversary Festival, a three day celebration of music and lectures featuring musicians in various formats, from solo performance, to a 27 piece orchestra, to a presentation by the AACM School of Music Choir, made up of children from the school. Held at the Getz Theater of Columbia College, the festival was a popular and critical success, playing to standing room audiences each night. In addition to a celebration, the festival was acknowledging the dedication, perseverance, and artistry of its members. The AACM is now the oldest and most venerable organization of it s kind.

The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Inc. is supported in part through grants from the Illinois Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the MacArthur Foundation, The Chicago Office of Fine Arts, Chicago Community Trust, Soft Sheen Products, Columbia College, members and friends.