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Fusion: jazz, flamenco, and rethinking aesthetic

Balzarano, Jason Patrick

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Jason Patrick Balzarano


Miroslav Spasov

Barbara Kelly

Nicholas Reyland


This thesis is about the music of the fusion movement (1969-1980). Disparaged by writers and critics who denounced the blending phenomenon as a commercially driven jazz substyle offering no artistic merit, the research presented here argues for the rethinking of its place in current jazz narratives and academic study. I contend that fusion, in addition to the abundance of simplified musical fare, also offered opportunities for musicians to indulge in creative acts of hybridity. In their compositional treatment of multiple musical ingredients, fusion musicians were often accused of appropriating divergent materials to create their blends, resorting to a plundering of a particular style’s superficial qualities in unoriginal acts of imitation. Interpreting the work of three distinctive artists of the period; Miles Davis, Chick Corea, and the multinational group ‘Caldera’, this thesis will highlight the ways in which they challenged this convention. Focussing on their individual handling of Spanish flamenco music within jazz peripheries and other ambiguous hybrid surrounds, the research considers their blends as serious achievements in artistic hybridity. Utilising a diverse collection of periodical sources and biographical materials to position each artist’s creative goals at the time of composition, the individual case studies will also incorporate innovative methodologies and theoretical perspectives in music analysis. The results of these studies will collectively inform an alternative reading to the current devaluing theories concerning the fusion aesthetic. By demonstrating that creative invention, assimilation of stylistic formulae, and innovation in hybridity also permeated the scene, the opportunity for future critical attention, in what is an underexplored niche in jazz studies, will be encouraged by the aesthetic rethinking the thesis implores.


Balzarano, J. P. (2019). Fusion: jazz, flamenco, and rethinking aesthetic. (Thesis). Keele University

Thesis Type Thesis
Publicly Available Date Feb 2, 2024
Additional Information Embargo on access until 1 February 2024 - The thesis is due for publication, or the author is actively seeking to publish this material.
Award Date 2019-03


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