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I've never been fond of the "creative music" tag—it kind of goes in the same insulting file as "intelligent dance music"—but one of the genre's leading figures, Leroy Jenkins, passed away this weekend in Manhattan at the age of 74. A violinist from childhood, he was instrumental in the AACM and helped to establish the notion that there is no instrument that can't be employed in riveting improvisation. He formed the Creative Construction Company with Anthony Braxton, Leo Wadada Smith, and Steve McCall, and the group's 1970 performance in New York is considered one of that city's first exposures to the Chicago sound.
Jenkins went on to play with both Alice Coltrane and Cecil Taylor, but it was his Revolutionary Ensemble that enabled him to stretch his bow in unprecented directions and develop his radical, logical, and lyrical style to the fullest. Over the years he undertook ambitious multimedia works that drew on his classical background and even dabbled in fusion and meditative music of a new-agey bent, but he never sounded like he was pulling his punches. Both the confrontational and conversational sides of his playing were there for a reason, in their own balanced measure.
WKCR in New York is honoring Jenkins with a 12-hour marathon of his music that kicks off Wednesday at 6 AM. You can stream the whole thing here. (Thanks to Margaret Davis on the Chi-Improv mailing list for the tip.)