Kurt Loder on Nat Hentoff, Free Speech, and Free Jazz


For well over 60 years, Nat Hentoff has been a one-of-a-kind public intellectual, an unrelentingly outspoken champion of both modern jazz and all of the liberties that flow from the First Amendment. In The Pleasures of Being Out of Step, a new documentary directed by David L. Lewis, we hear Hentoff explaining these twinned inspirations. "The reason we have jazz," he says, "the reason we have almost anything worthwhile, is the fact that we're a free people. And that came about because of James Madison, and those improvisers." As Kurt Loder writes, Lewis does a superb job of illustrating Hentoff's long career with firsthand interviews of the man himself and many of his colleagues,