Free Jazz/Black Power

Free Jazz/Black Power

Philippe Carles and Jean-Louis Comolli

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9781628460391

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi


Free Jazz/Black Power is a treatise on the racial and political implications of jazz and jazz criticism published in 1971 by two French jazz critics, Philippe Carles and Jean-Louis Comolli. The goal of the book was to show that the strong and mostly negative reactions provoked by free jazz among classic jazz critics on both sides of the Atlantic could be better understood by analyzing the social, cultural and political origins of jazz itself, exposing its ties to African American culture, history, and the political struggle that was still raging in early 1970s USA. The authors analyze the circumstances of the production of jazz criticism as discourse, a work of cultural studies in a time and place where the practice as such was completely unknown. The book owes much to African American cultural and political thought. Carles and Comolli suggest that the African American struggle had to be seen as a singular branch of a worldwide class struggle, echoing more famous figures of the French Left of the time, such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, or Jean Genêt. Yet few were those that had articulated this de rigueur political backing with an in-depth cultural critique and analysis of the condition of African Americans informed by African Americans themselves.