Miles Davis and Fusion Jazz

When I was in high school, one of the ways one exercised one’s will to power was to possess more, and deeper, cultural knowledge. This was particularly true of music. The more obscure and unlistenable prog-rock band and recordings one could find, the more social capital one possessed. I won’t bore you with the details of this; if I mentioned the names of some of these rock groups, you almost certainly wouldn’t know them. That’s how arcane this knowledge was and is, and how ephemeral and transient the music turned out to be.

That was never true, however, of one of the masterpiece albums a friend of mine played for me when I was about 16. Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew is simply a seminal album: it broke new ground, and still sounds fresh and innovative today. It also gave rise to a new genre of music–jazz fusion, or fusion jazz–depending on which word one wants modifying the other.

Here is a reading on Miles Davis’ invention of and contributions to fusion jazz with a vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet to accompany it. I’ve found students with even a modest interest in music find this material interesting.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

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