This is a powerful and insightful book with an outstanding breadth of musical and critical erudition.
Duncan Heining claims that the era from 1960 to the mid-seventies was significantly affected by "a sense of liberation and freedom" which developments in British jazz reflected.
So much so that what begins as a praise song to a generation of hugely talented and dedicated jazz musicians, including Mike Westbrook, Evan Parker, Joe Harriott, John Stevens, Julie Tippetts, Harry Beckett, Graham Collier and Norma Winstone, ends with Heining invoking, among others, Karl Marx, Walter Benjamin, William Blake, William Morris and John Ruskin.
But the weight and true authority of the book lies in the words the author has shared with those he has interviewed and who participated in this astonishingly inventive age of British jazz.
Stevens tells how he and others first heard and were inspired by John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman on German radio when they were serving in the RAF after WWII.
There's an account too of the strange but fortuitous encounter of guitarist Derek Bailey, drummer Tony Oxley and bassist Gavin Bryars - the defiantly innovative Joseph Holbrooke Trio - meeting up and playing in The Grapes pub in Sheffield.
They were inspired to play music "without relying on the next record coming from America to tell us how," Oxley says.
Such contrasts and contradictions illuminate Heining's writing, as do the chapters which focus on the class background and allegiances of the musicians.
He tackles too the effect of post-war educational progress, the relationship of the new free music with pop, the negative impact of drugs and alcohol, jazz and anti-racism, the significance of the era's jazz women and the music's relationship with the left.
Heining pitches all these themes within an epochal context when adventurous, iconoclastic musicians made music "against a backcloth of ideas in ferment."
As a creative and collective riposte to the dullness and "commodity fetishism" that impacted on music then - and which does so even more now - these artists, according to bassist Barry Guy, forged music and ideas into a "singular" creative process.
At the same time we had humility and support from each other," he recalls.
"If anything, it was a kind of socialism."
The records of the period are there to be heard and often to be marvelled at and Heining's book is certainly one of the most vibrant studies of jazz I've read.
The only gripe about his essential work is that it's so expensive.
Publishers, get that paperback out sharpish.