A founding member of the AACM, drummer Alvin Fielder dropped off the radar before re-emerging in the '80s and '90s as a solid, veteran free improviser. Fielder was born November 23, 1935, in Meridian, MS, and began taking piano lessons at age six, but didn't really fall in love with music until 12, when a drummer friend turned him on to Max Roach. He studied with Ed Blackwell after high school, but wasn't sure he wanted to make music a career path, and completed the graduate-school requirements to become a pharmacist like his father. Still, he kept playing the drums throughout his education, and after earning his degree at the University of Illinois, he made the trek northward to check out the emerging jazz scene in Chicago. In 1963, Fielder became one of the charter members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Music (AACM), a groundbreaking artists' collective dedicated to promoting the new freedom in jazz. He played with artists ranging from Sun Ra and Muhal Richard Abrams to Eddie Harris and Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, but his most prominent gig was as a member of the Roscoe Mitchell Sextet, who in 1967 laid down the first-ever AACM recording, the free jazz landmark Sound. Fielder eventually drifted away from music and returned to Mississippi, where he opened his own pharmacy in 1977. He returned to recording in 1982 with the Lifters on the Prescription Records release History Is Made Every Second, and soon went on to work with the Improvisational Arts Quintet. In 1987, Fielder recorded for Silkheart as a sideman with Ahmed Abdullah, Charles Brackeen, and Dennis Gonzalez, the latter of whom he would continue to work with through the early '90s. During the latter half of the decade, Fielder won attention and acclaim from the free jazz community for his work with Joel Futterman and Kidd Jordan's groups, recording with them in quintet (Nickelsdorf Konfrontation, 1996), quartet (New Orleans Rising, 1997), and trio (Southern Extreme, 1998) settings. In 2002, he toured with tenor saxophonist Andrew Lamb.