Between 1957 and 1967 there was a combustion of new energy, new spirit in the world of so-called Jazz music in America. During this period, diaspora African “black” musicians, by the hundreds, started to play “Free”. This musical “freeness” was not only a conscious protest against America’s white-owned, and controlled, record companies and the overall racist music establishment that for the previous 50 years systematically forced so-called “black” musicians to play within the conventional box of set tempos and pre-structured chord changes; but also a conscious protest against America’s political-governmental establishment that systematically, to this very day, continues the over 400 year legacy of mentally and sociologically exploiting all so-called “black” people of African descent in America! By the mid 1950’s so-called “black” musicians decided that the musical genres before them, specifically “swing,” was not only too limiting for their creativity, but also helped keep the mindset of so-called “black” musicians stuck in a position of social inferiority and mental imprisonment.
Several revolutionary musicians, such as Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Sun Ra, Ornette Colman, Cecil Taylor, Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Navarro, Thelonious Monk, Randy Weston, Bill Dixon, John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Clifford Brown, Milford Graves, Archie Shepp, Sunny Murray, and many, many others, understood that playing “free” was basically a cry for help in protest against America’s social and economic exploitation of so-called “black” people; as well as America’s musical exploitation of so-called “black” musicians. And it wasn’t only musicians who attempted to free themselves through their art. Poets, such as Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, AB Spellman, Norman (N. H.) Pritchard, Ismael Reed, Carolyn M. Rodgers, and Larry Neal, who organized right alongside the musicians, also used their artform as a platform to proudly proclaim their cultural freeness!
This book envisions the many personal stories and personal struggles of these very special revolutionary “free jazz” players, and poets, in their quest for musical, social, cultural, and spiritual “freeness” in a western society that does not want diaspora African “black” people to truly be “free” at any real societal level, which includes the “musical” level. Between 1957-1967 musical “freeness” coincided with the growing political freedom movements, such as the Civil Rights movement, the Black Nationalist movement, the African Consciousness movement, and the Nation of Islam. This book examines the relationship between these political and/or cultural movements and the key people involved, and how their quest for social and economic freedom sometimes collided with the musicians’ quest for musical, cultural and spiritual freedom. While at the same time, those revolutionary musicians also collided with other musicians who chose to stay “comfortable” in their musical mental imprisonment! This book takes you on a very sacred journey through history, music, mysticism, metaphor, culture, spirituality, oppression, redemption and everything in between!