Guitarist and Detroiter A. Spencer Barefield came to CMS in the summer of 1979 for some all-AACM sessions led by Roscoe Mitchell of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Spencer started playing with Roscoe when he was at Michigan State University and the Art Ensemble was living and performing in the Lansing, Michigan, area.
The influence of Chicago’s AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative musicians–but you knew that, didn’t you?) at CMS cannot be overemphasized. It was huge. In the summer of 1979, Roscoe brought in, in addition to Spencer, Joseph Jarman, Anthony Braxton, George Lewis, Douglas Ewart, and Leo Smith.
What A. Spencer Barefield is doing now is perhaps unique in the tradition of presenting Great Black Music (and other music) in urban settings. He’s presenting a series called Palmer Woods Music in Homes: “jazz, classical and world music concerts in historic mansions and cool homes” in the Palmer Woods neighborhood of Detroit. Palmer Woods is “a garden of creative and vibrant energy and home to doctors, writers, artists, musicians, lawyers, judges, educators, business owners, union members, students, innovators, leaders and professionals from all walks of life. Also home to multitudes of dogs and cats, as well as cardinals, gold finches, blue jays, squirrels, raccoons, and a colorful array of wildlife.” Yup, it’s right, smack dab in the city of Detroit.
Spencer is also the artistic and executive director of the Creative Arts Collective (CAC), “whose concerts at the Detroit Institute of Arts and elsewhere earned CAC the Michigan’s Governor’s Arts Award for excellence and international recognition for its innovative presentations. Over a hundred of CAC’s concerts have been broadcast on National Public Radio.”
All the quotes above are from A. Spencer Barefield’s very own website, which I recommend you get on over and check out. Many people know Detroit’s musical history, but too few people know that Detroit remains a vibrant and exciting city in which to create, perform, present, and learn music.