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'Poets of Action': The Saint Louis Black Artists' Group, 1968-1972 (Part 4-4)

By Published: December 19, 2004

Information about BAG in Paris was obtained from the interviews with former BAG members and from Madden, pp. 31-4. The following French-language articles also contain information on BAG in Paris: "Salone d'Automne," Jazz Magazine no. 206 (December 1972); "Jazz en Direct: Paris," Jazz Magazine no. 207 (January 1973); Maurice Cullaz, "Black Artists Group of St. Louis," Jazz Hot no. 296 (July/August 1973). The French reviewer's comments are from "Salon d'Automne,", p. 48, translated for this article by Washington University graduate student Paul J. Venhuizen, September 2000. The AACM members in Paris are discussed in Litweiler, pp. 183-4. BAG members' initial gig at the American Center and the funding from the French Ministry of Culture are related by LeFlore, in the interview by author.

Madden discusses BAG and AACM members in New York on pp. 34-6. The New York Times remark on the World Saxophone Quartet is quoted in Richard Woodward, "Four Saxmen, One Great Voice," New York Times Magazine (12 April 1987), p. 47, though Woodward does not cite the original NYT article that provided his source. For more on BAG and AACM members in New York's "loft jazz scene," see: Vladimir Simosko, "Studio Rivbea: Spring Festival," Coda no. 149 (July 1976); Nancy Carter, "AACM Bash in New York," Down Beat (11 August 1977); Robert Palmer, "New Jazz From the Midwest Moves East," Cadence vol. 16 no. 12 (December 1990). For information on Lake's and Hemphill's post-BAG careers, one might also see David Jackson, "Profile: Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake," in Downbeat, v. 19 (June 1975); on the World Saxophone Quartet, David Ruben, "World Sax Quartet Swings to Its Own Beat," San Francisco Chronicle (Pail 9, 1989, Datebook 48). On the New York program subsidizing loft space for artistic purposes, see Sharon Zukin, Loft Living (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1982).

The quote "Sadly, BAG exists now..." is from Wilmer, p. 222. Both Owsley and current AFM Local 2-197 secretary Kaid Friedel share the opinion stated here that the loss of the black AFM Local 197's rehearsal hall on Pine Street dealt a blow to St. Louis jazz; these are expressed in Owsley, "The Jazz History of St. Louis," KWMU-FM St. Louis radio script, 1989; and Friedel, private correspondence to the author, 29 March 2001, although Friedel notes that the loss of performance and rehearsal spaces for black musicians was part of a national trend and was not unique to St. Louis. The quote "some to thrive, others to disappear..." is from Litweiler, p. 197. The paragraph on creative urban milieux draws from Sir Peter Hall, Cities in Civilization: Culture, Innovation, and Urban Order (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1998), pp. 11, 18-21; regarding "marginality," Sir Peter cites psychologist Howard Gardner, Creative Minds (New York: Basic Books, 1993); regarding "structural instability," Sir Peter works from ideas of geographer Gunner Törnqvist, "Creativity and the Renewal of Regional Life," in Creativity and Context: A Seminar Report (Lund Studies in Geography. B. Human Geography, No. 50), ed. A. Buttimer (Lund, Sweden: Gleerup, 1978), pp. 91-112. The William Clay quote is from his introduction to John Wright, Discovering African-American St. Louis (St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society Press, 1994), p. xi.

My sincere thanks for source suggestions and comments on drafts to Katherine Douglass, Rockwell Gray, Robert Hughes, Mark Looker, Ingrid Monson, and Mary Seematter.




First published in Gateway-Heritage: The Quarterly Magazine of the Missouri Historical Society, Vol. 22 No. 1 (Summer 2001). Footnoted copies and originals (with photos) available from the Missouri Historical Society, P.O. Box 11940, St. Louis, MO 63112-0040 USA.


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