Freedom Is, Freedom Ain't: Jazz and the Making of the Sixties [NOOK Book]


In the long decade between the mid-fifties and the late sixties, jazz was changing more than its sound. The age of Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite, John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, and Charles Mingus's The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady was a time when jazz became both newly militant and newly seductive, its example powerfully shaping the social dramas of the Civil Rights movement, the Black Power movement, and the counterculture. Freedom Is, Freedom Ain't is the first book to tell the broader story of this period ...
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Freedom Is, Freedom Ain't: Jazz and the Making of the Sixties

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In the long decade between the mid-fifties and the late sixties, jazz was changing more than its sound. The age of Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite, John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, and Charles Mingus's The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady was a time when jazz became both newly militant and newly seductive, its example powerfully shaping the social dramas of the Civil Rights movement, the Black Power movement, and the counterculture. Freedom Is, Freedom Ain't is the first book to tell the broader story of this period in jazz--and American--history.
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Editorial Reviews

American Literature
Scott Saul's Freedom Is, Freedom Ain't is that rarity in academic studies: a book one is tempted to read a second time purely for pleasure. Saul writes with a musician's working knowledge of craft and a cultural journalist's narrative and stylistic panache. Loosely organized around a history of jazz from "Birth of the Cool" through the apotheosis of free jazz...Freedom Is devotes equal attention to jazz stylistics, politics, audiences, and resonances in the literary and visual arts.
— Adam Gussow
Belles Lettres
This book is provocative and engaging, and it draws enlightening connections that will help answer further questions both about jazz and American culture in the 1960s.
— Gabriel Solis
High Times
Documenting the ascendance of hard bop and soul-jazz as currencies of cool for hipsters both black and white nearly a half-century ago, Scott Saul provides a rich contextual history of the epochal Newport Jazz Festival as well as focused examinations of jazz artists who came of age during this colorful era...Saul describes an interface of music and lifestyle that paralleled the rise of black activism. He surveys a tumultuous clash of art, commerce, politics and race with a keen eye, depicting various jazz heroes and their organized contributions as well as the slow evolution of cool, Saul even finds comparisons between the social impact of John Coltrane and Malcolm X...Above all, Freedom Is, Freedom Ain't illuminates the vital relationship between black music and urban culture.
— Mitch Myers
Journal of American History
Along with the saxophonist John Coltrane, the mercurial bassist-composer-bandleader [Charles] Mingus is at the heart of Scott Saul's meditation on jazz and the civil rights movement. Saul wants us to understand hard bop and other jazz-inspired artistic forms as participating in the same modes of political thought as the black freedom movement... The dynamics and aesthetics of the music shed light on the era's politics, while African American politics helps us grasp the musical affiliations and creative choices of artists...Saul draws some previously unnoticed connections between youth culture and the very adult world of hard bop, particularly the influence of jazz festivals on the white counterculture...Saul is consistently engaging, his interpretations and prose often as energized as his subjects.
— David W. Stowe
New York Sun
Saul...shows in very specific detail that the music that most accurately mirrors the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s is jazz--specifically hard bop. [He]...has attempted a major task: placing jazz in the larger cultural and political context of the late 1950s and early 1960s...Saul...bravely goes where no historian has gone before in tying musicological specifics to larger political points.
— Will Friedwald
Signal to Noise
These days jazz seems so marginalized that it's bracing to read a book that shows so clearly how and why jazz is relevant to larger social, political, and cultural issues...[Saul's] analysis of the 1960 riot at the Newport Jazz Festival and the different ways jazz critics, social commentators, and black intellectuals and artists--including poet Langston Hughes and bassist Charles Mingus--reacted to it, is some of the most insightful writing on the tensions between consumer culture and jazz culture, and the black-white racial divide that I've ever read. Saul also maps out the connections that artists and critics saw between the progressive politics of the civil rights and Black Power movements and avant-garde music...This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the wider cultural and political issues that have affected jazz in the past 50 years.
— Ed Hazell
The Wire
Scott Saul's subject is the explosion of revolutionary jazz in the 1950s and 1960s driven by an engagement with the Black Power movement and the anti-suburban hipster counterculture. The principal musicians he explores are figures like Charles Mingus, John Coltrane and Max Roach, but he bucks the biographical norm by placing the music within the wider intellectual milieu of writers, critics and visual artists that instinctively felt the urgency of jazz, even if some responded in a wrongfooted way...Tension between individualism and the safety net of mass culture is the prevailing theme of this original and thought-provoking piece of writing.
— Philip Clark
Times Higher Education Supplement
Saul has written a wise and trenchant study of a complex period in American culture. Heavy on detail and accurate musical analysis, Freedom Is, Freedom Ain't is a welcome antidote to the absurdist dialectics of writers such as Frank Kofsky, who co-opted Coltrane to the black nationalist cause, and to those who promote or condemn jazz modernism without understanding its wider context. Unusually, it is a book about the sociology of music that lets the music breathe as well. Readers familiar with Mingus's Black Saint and the Sinner Lady or Max Roach's deceptively complex We Insist!: Freedom Now Suite will return to the music with fresh understanding. Those who have not previously encountered these classic records and who think vaguely of John Coltrane's A Love Supreme as the iconic moment in 1960s jazz will find their listening as well as their thinking subtly but emphatically shifted.
— Brian Morton
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674043107
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 6/30/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 408
  • File size: 696 KB

Meet the Author

Scott Saul is Assistant Professor of English at the University of California at Berkeley.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


Introduction: Hard Bop and the Impulse to Freedom

Part One: A New Intellectual Vernacular

1. Birth of the Cool: The Early Career of the Hipster

2. Radicalism by Another Name: The White Negro Meets the Black Negro

Part Two: Redefining Youth Culture

3. Riot on a Summer's Day: White Youth and the Rise of the Jazz Festival

4. The Riot in Reverse: The Newport Rebels, Langston Hughes, and the Mockery of Freedom

Part Three: The Sound of Struggle

5. Outrageous Freedom: Charles Mingus and the Invention of the Jazz Workshop

6. "This Freedom's Slave Cries": Listening to the Jazz Workshop

Part Four: Freedom's Saint

7. The Serious Side of Hard Bop: John Coltrane's Early Dramas of Deliverance

8. Loving A Love Supreme: Coltrane, Malcolm, and the Revolution of the Psyche

Part Five: In and Out of the Whirlwind

9. "Love, Like Jazz, Is a Four Letter Word": Jazz and the Counterculture

10. The Road to "Soul Power": The Many Ends of Hard Bop




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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2004

    jazz through a zoom lens

    This book is not a comprehensive, authoritative guide to jazz and society in the 1960s, nor a pedantic treatise on revolutionary aethetics. It's more like a zoom lens: focusing on a few key details, then zooming out to show how they fit into the larger picture. Saul give a 'close listening' of classic jazz works like A Love Supreme, then widens the field to show how the musicians and audiences understood these works, what it meant to them at the time... zooms out to trace the position of the works in the larger historical landscape... and then zooms in again. In almost every field of view there are interesting discoveries. Jazz lovers who want to know the cultural context for the music they love will come away with a deeper appreciation. This book cultivates the reverence that this profound music deserves.

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