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Avant Garde/Free Jazz; Fusion (1960 - 1990)

III. Cultural Implications


A. Avant Garde/Free Jazz

      

1.

jazz musicians remained at the forefront of the artistic avant-garde 

      

2.

from its earliest roots, jazz has been about freedom; Free Jazz is a natural outgrowth of this issue 

      

3.

in a nation transformed by the social trauma, civil tumult, cultural and behavioral changes, drugs (such as hallucionogenics that stimulated chemically induced escapes from reality), and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction of the 1950s and 60s’ artistic expression in all the arts was transformed; for example, these decades witnessed: 

            

a.

free verse poetry 

            

b.

abstract art 

            

c.

circular novels 

            

d.

modern dance 

            

e.

Free Jazz 

      

4.

Free Jazz was very much a part of the post World War II era, a time when traditional concepts of behavior, art, order, and even reality were questioned 

      

5.

Free Jazz reflected a growing movement in major inner cities toward an Afrocentric form of spirituality 

      

6.

Free Jazz reflected both black pride and anger 

      

7.

via its blending of dissonant harmonies and simple naive-sounding chant-like tunes, Free Jazz reflected both anger and lost innocence of African American childhood and tradition; it was able to express a vulnerability and fragility that black political militants did not express 

Audio Snippets

speakerspacer Lonely Woman - Ornette Coleman


B. Fusion

      

1.

Fusion developed in the late 1960’s out of, perhaps, the most confusing and pessimistic time for jazz and American society at large 

      

2.

Fusion was the stage for new cultural roles in jazz brought on by Americans’ search for meaning in their lives in their struggle: 

            

a.

against communism, North Vietnam, and poverty 

            

b.

for civil rights, racial equality, and the American dream 

      

3.

America’s faith in progress was shaken by continuous images of bloodshed, waste, and corruption; it’s postwar feelings of affluence, righteousness, and liberal progress were thwarted 

      

4.

America responded to society’s strife by turning inward, giving rise to the “me generation” 

            

a.

music became a vehicle for Americans’ search for satisfaction 

            

b.

musical styles reflected America’s various subcultures’ separate and “private” preferences, not a shared public experience 

      

5.

“Smooth Jazz” was associated with the uncommitted, private, detached life styles of a fragmented 1970s mass public 

      

6.

although new cultural trends took the urgency and protest out of music, allowing mass marketing to direct much of America’s musical taste in jazz, many social revolutions that had begun in the 1960’s were continued and realized; that, too was reflected in the music 

      

7.

Fusion was heard as the backdrop of many motion pictures and television shows, especially adult thrillers (e.g., Body Heat, Jagged Edge, Nine and a Half Weeks, Miami Vice

the thelonious monk institute of jazz
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