Beneath Detroit lie seeds of greatness.
Jazz or Black American Music history is well written to include cities and scenes like New Orleans, Kansas City, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Yet despite this accepted look, other cities are often passed over in spite of the remarkable nature of their contribution.
A longstanding example of this is Detroit.
Known for Motown, Rock, Techno and Hip Hop, the Jazz history of Detroit eludes all but the schooled. Detroit, with its industrial magnitude and factory working culture produced enough “A” list musicians in the 1950’s to flood New York’s emerging post be-bop scene so as to almost eclipse it. The Detroit / NY Junction brought us Barry Harris, Milt Jackson, Elvin,Thad and Hank Jones, Yusef Lateef, Kenny Burrell, Paul Chambers, Curtis Fuller, Ron Carter, Joe Henderson, Pepper Adams, Louis Hayes, Donald Byrd, Bennie Maupin, Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby to name just a few.
Of even lesser coverage was the outer edges of the music and players that stayed in Detroit. The local and the Avant-Garde. Think Charles Moore, Lyman Woodard, Ken Cox, Marcus Belgrave and Phil Ranelin.
From 1979 to 1992 there existed a concert series performed at Detroit’s Institute of Arts by an organization that would be Detroit’s answer to Chicago’s AACM or St. Louis’s BAG (Black Artists Group). A follow through to the Detroit record label’s Tribe and Strata. The Creative Arts Collective was the next generation that carried the avant guard tradition forward, while inviting players from around the US to add on and participate in an entirely new music…
Formed by Roscoe Mitchell and students at Michigan State University and then carried back to fruition by Detroit guitarist A Spencer Barefield and his wife Photographer Barbara Barefield, The Creative Arts Collective continued a pattern of musical ingenuity and experimentation in the Motor City that held its ground with any movement the city had spawned. The CAC was grass roots, community created and self-published. Musicians on a regular basis included Faruq Z Bey, Tani Tabal, Jaribu Shahid, Anthony Holland, Richard Davis, Roy Brooks, Sun Ra, Anthony Braxton, The Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Lester Bowie, Roscoe Mitchell, Hugh Ragin, Arthur Blythe, Andrew Cyrille, Oliver Lake, George Lewis and legions more.
The CAC was one of the most important gathering points for music in America’s Jazz History while remaining entirely obscure to the greater story.
With a generous grant from the NEA and the continuous support of CAC, Spencer and Barbara Barefield, Rudy Lauerman and The Detroit Institute Of Arts
Dublab presents : Beneath Detroit – The Creative Arts Collective Concerts At The Detroit Institute Of Arts 1978-92.
Photography on landing page by Jeffery Plansker, Barbara Barefield, Laura Plansker, All rights reserved.