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Free Jazz and Fusion




1. National Center for History in the Schools, UCLA

2. NAfME: The National Association for Music Education

3. For information on ordering The Instrumental History of Jazz 2-CD set, click here.

4. Student handouts can be downloaded from the Jazz in America website and photocopied.

5. Any material from the Jazz in America website may be downloaded, printed, and/or made into a PowerPoint slide as the instructor sees fit.


  1. Free Jazz
  2. Fusion

National Standards for United States History1

Historical Thinking
Students should be able to:
  1. Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration in which historical developments have unfolded, and apply them to explain historical continuity and change. (Historical Comprehension Standard 2F).
  2. Appreciate historical perspectives – (a) describing the past on its own terms, through the eyes and experiences of those who were there, as revealed through their literature, diaries, letters, debates, arts, artifacts, and the like; (b) considering the historical context in which the event unfolded–the values, outlook, options, and contingencies of that time and place; and (c) avoiding “present-mindedness,” judging the past solely in terms of present-day norms and values (Historical Thinking Standard 1F).
  3. Draw upon the visual, literary, and musical sources, including (a) photographs, paintings, cartoons, and architectural drawings; (b) novels, poetry, and plays; and (c) folk, popular and classical music, to clarify, illustrate, or elaborate upon information presented in the historical narrative (Historical Comprehension Standard 2I).
  4. Draw comparisons across eras and regions in order to define enduring issuesas well as large-scale or long-term developments that transcend regional and temporal boundaries (Historical Analysis and Interpretation Standard 3D).
Historical Content
Students should understand the "Second Reconstruction" and its advancement of civil rights (Era 9: Postwar United States Standard 4A). Therefore, the student should be able to:
  1. Analyze the leadership and ideology of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X in the civil rights movement and evaluate their legacies.
  2. Evaluate the agendas, strategies, and effectiveness of various African Americans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans, and Native Americans, as well as the disabled, in the quest for civil rights and equal opportunities.

National Standards for Music Education2

Artistic Process - Responding: Select, Analyze, Interpret, and Evaluate Music
  1. Choose music appropriate for specific purposes and contexts. – Select programs of music (such as a CD mix or live performances) and demonstrate the connections to an interest or experience for a specific purpose (MU:Re7.1.8a).
  2. Analyze how the structure and context of varied musical works inform the response. – Compare how the elements of music and expressive qualities relate to the structure within programs of music (MU:Re7.2.8a); Identify and compare the context of programs of music from a variety of genres, cultures, and historical periods (MU:Re7.2.8b).
  3. Support an interpretation of a musical work that reflects the creators’/performers’ expressive intent. – Support personal interpretation of contrasting programs of music and explain how creators or performers apply the elements of music and expressive qualities, within genres, cultures, and historical periods to convey expressive intent (MU:Re8.1.7a).
  4. Support evaluations of musical works and performance(s) based on analysis, interpretation, and established criteria. – Apply appropriate personally developed criteria to evaluate musical works or performances (MU:Re9.1.8a).
Artistic Process - Connecting: Select, Analyze, Interpret, and Evaluate Music
  1. Demonstrate how interests, knowledge, and skills relate to personal choices and intent when creating, performing, and responding to music (MU:Cn10.0.8a).
  2. Demonstrate understanding of relationships between music and the other arts, other disciplines, varied contexts, and daily life (MU:Cn11.0.8a).

The student will:
  1. gain a fundamental understanding of
    1. free jazz
    2. fusion
  2. explore how free jazz and fusion reflected American culture and society in the 1960s and 1970s

  1. computer logged onto www.jazzinamerica.org
  2. LCD projector and screen
  3. CD player (optional)

  1. The Instrumental History of Jazz (IHJ)3 – optional
    1. two CDs
    2. accompanying booklet
  2. Student Handouts4 (one per student)
    1. chapter glossary

The instructor will:
  1. distribute student handouts5

  2. discuss the fundamentals of
    1. free jazz
    2. fusion
  3. discuss American history and culture regarding
    1. free jazz
    2. fusion
  4. play various jazz recordings, including examples of free jazz and fusion

The students will:
  1. participate in a class discussion regarding free jazz and fusion
  2. participate in a class discussion regarding jazz history as a part of American history in the 1960s and 1970s, including the Civil Rights Movement
  3. listen to jazz recordings of free jazz and fusion

Test Bank
  1. Multiple Choice Test
  2. Essay/Discussion Questions at the Teacher’s Discretion

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