Through the study of major artists and recordings, the student will identify the compositional and instrumental practices of the jazz fusion idiom and apply those to writing assignments and projects. Jazz fusion is looked at broadly and may include a variety of idiomatic 20th-century world music and popular music techniques. The course does not follow a particular methodology, but rather encourages the student to find his/her own voice within the genre. The class begins with a historical survey of the jazz fusion idiom starting with Miles Davis's landmark Bitches Brew recording and continues with the music of the alumni of Davis' influential bands, up to today. As students apply techniques and ideas learned, they will gain perspective as to how jazz fusion is part of music as a whole and examine some of the underlying principles that make for good composition. A special section of the course will be dedicated to introducing students to some fundamentals of Indian ragas (scales) and to Konnikol (Indian rhythmic solfege) and their application to contemporary jazz-fusion composition. Groups such as Shakti, Miles From India, Trilok Gurtu, The Marc Rossi Group, and others have brought this information to the forefront, and it is helping to redefine jazz fusion.
George Russell Jr.