Dreams in Double Time: On Race, Freedom, and Bebop

Duke Univ. Aug. 2023. 256p. ISBN 9781478020752. pap. $25.95. MUSIC
Leal (English, Univ. of Southern California; coeditor, Cybermedia: Explorations in Science, Sound, and Vision) contends that bebop—the revolutionary jazz form from the 1940s—was an essential vehicle for improvisational expression and personal empowerment for musicians of color. He insightfully explores this through the lives of three relatively unknown artists: Japanese American saxophonist/trumpeter James Araki, Chicano “prison poet” and activist Raúl Salinas, and Harold Wing, a Black and Chinese drummer/pianist. Leal’s multilayered study recounts their lives through the filter of how dreams can move people beyond boundaries of possibility. The book also probes the way many white people have marginalized and limited others. As an academic discourse, this takes an intriguing approach. The writing, however, sometimes comes across as academically florid. The book is more of a diatribe against colonialist white society. This does not mean any of Leal’s positions are incorrect, but the book’s overly stylistic and dogmatic delivery sometimes constrains its important thesis.
VERDICT This would make an excellent accompaniment for an advanced course in musical or racial history, but it’s not for general readers.
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