“So when the musicians and the other artists started talking about ‘Free Music’ and ‘Free Jazz’ that was an indication that the music was in tune with the whole political movement at that time - the sense of disconnecting from old, used-up references. I always thought about John Coltrane the way I thought about Malcolm X. This was a step further, a new address to America that Afro-American people would no longer be pinned to the decisions and predisposition of America - White racist America - and music made that a metaphor, that no, we don’t want to have Tin Pan Alley chord changes. When people like Ornette [Coleman] began to insist that they no longer needed those old guidelines, that the music would determine where it was going, not some kind of standard chord changes.”
Amiri Baraka, interviewed on Black Is a Country for BBC Radio 4.