Free jazz improvisation: a continuum, from Africa to Congo Square, from early jazz to bebop, and the return to mysticism for communal healing and transcendence

Committee members: Jeffrey Benedict, James Ford,III, Kimberly R. King, John M. Kennedy

Bebop, Cecil, Civil rights, Free jazz, Healing and transcending oppression, Ornette

Thesis (M.A.) California State University, Los Angeles, 2012

This research uncovers what free jazz improvisation is and how and why it came about from a historical, cultural, sociological, and political perspective. It explores jazz's African origins and elements, its psychologically healing, therapeutic purposes and benefits as a hedge against, and means to transcend, racial oppression and effect community healing for both performers and audiences, regardless of racial differences.The study includes commentary from free jazz artists and composers, many of whom are scholars, educators, and authors as well. There are also commentary and interviews of free jazz artists and composers by writers and critics during the bebop, free jazz, and coinciding Civil Rights Movement from the 1940s to the 1970s. Included, also, is a recent, personal interview done by the study's researcher with free jazz pioneer, Ornette Coleman.Keywords: Free jazz, bebop, civil rights, community, healing, racial oppression, mysticism, slavery, resistance, diaspora, Congo Square, African origins, Ornette, Cecil