Freedom Is, Freedom Ain't: Jazz and the Making of the Sixties

With an incredible gift for helping you hear the surprising sounds he studies, Scott Saul brilliantly shows how the new music of hard bop in the 1950s and 60s amounted to a new stance toward the world--a kind of "direct action" in musical form whose liberatory charisma tore through the U.S. cultural and social caste system. A truly great work of U.S. cultural studies.

—Eric Lott, author of Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class

A powerful story about how African American musicians and artists expressed the hope, pain, exhilaration, determination, and loss people felt in the midst of a revolution....A truly original contribution that will force us to rethink the relationship between the black freedom movement and American culture in the volatile 1960s.

—Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

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, Times Higher Education Supplement

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, American Literature

 Scott Saul
back to Faculty Books