Jazz and the broader worlds of creative black music have been important parts of the Walker Art Center’s Performing Arts program since its inception. In the early 1960s the volunteer-run Center Arts Council began presenting genre-defining, totemic black jazz figures, often introducing their music to the Upper Midwest for the first time. While the Walker’s programming has over decades involved many leading figures in jazz and experimental music across racial, generational, cultural, and transnational lines, this volume of the Living Collections Catalogue—Creative Black Music at the Walker: Selections from the Archives—focuses on a select group of influential black artists who came to the fore in the ’60s and ’70s and appeared at the Walker multiple times, each having an indelible impact on US musical culture.
Archival material not before available for public view is at the center of this publication, including rare audio and video recordings, photographs, posters and programs, and correspondence. The volume also features commissioned essays and interviews offering insightful perspectives from new generations of artists on these groundbreaking figures and movements. A timeline of selected performances highlights the remarkable range of black musicians and writers who appeared at the Walker from 1963 to 2019. In focusing on these vanguard artists with whom the Walker has had sustained relationships over time, Creative Black Music aspires to honor them and the art forms they helped forge—work that exemplifies artistic freedom, self-determination, racial justice, interdisciplinarity, and free-flowing creative expression.