From “Black Collectivities: A Conference,” held May 3–4, 2013, at Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the University of Chicago’s Arts Incubator. This article consists of a meditation on modes of self-organization within jazz and improvised music, with particular attention to the varieties of musical and social configuration. Starting with the concept of the solo and its place in ad hoc ensembles and in working bands, the article then considers other manifestations of organization in creative music, especially in a Chicago context, including the musicians’ unions and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, ending with an exceptional example, the Sun Ra Arkestra.

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