The free jazz revolution that began in the mid-1950s represented an artistic and sociopolitical response to the economic, racial, and musical climate of jazz and the nation. In parallel with the American civil rights movement, free jazz exemplified an escape from the restrictive rules of musical performance with an emphasis on individual expression and musical democracy. A handful of major individual artists opened the gateway to intense personalization of performances through astonishing new techniques, and inner-city collectives were formed to support artistic experimentation and community education. Reviled by most critics and jazz fans in its nascence, and still highly misunderstood today, free jazz eventually had a profound influence on subsequent developments in jazz and rock, forever changing the musical landscape.Todd S. Jenkins' handy encyclopedia of free music reflects upon the personalities, styles, organizations, philosophy and politics of a musical form to which too little prior attention has been devoted. Directing readers to outstanding recorded performances, it serves as an essential introduction to this difficult but rewarding music, offering a scholarly historical and cultural overview that provides a critical assessment of one of the most misunderstood periods in American music. Filling many gaps left in previously published literature on the subject, Jenkins's work is a necessary addition to the shelves of music libraries and the collections of jazz aficionados alike.
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