Birds of Fire: Jazz, Rock, Funk, and the Creation of Fusion
However, even as Nicholson correctly argues that "[fusion] realigned jazz alongside popular culture, a position it has historically strayed from at its peril," fusion remained an "ain't jazz" music. Yet this matters only if one insists on aligning fusion with jazz. As I have noted, free jazz musicians and increasingly mainstream jazz ones, as well, were relying on the patronage of elite and professional-class audiences and institutions as a consequence of jazz music's moves away from the social milieu in which it had grown and gained mass popularity. For many jazz artists this meant moving from mass white audiences to elite institutions for support. However, from the viewpoint of rock musicians and listeners, fusion aligned rock with the posturing airs of jazz, threatening to transform rock from an "electric folk music"a voice of "the people"into an arty, even pretentious, idiom. Listeners who privileged rock's physicality and libidinous energies bemoaned rock musicians' growing affectations as pretense and feared the loss of authenticity. But there were also large numbers of rock listeners who welcomed the growing sophisticationas long as the connection to earthier sensibilities were not severed to accomplish it. In 1969 Oxford University Press published The Story of Rock, a defense of rock as "folk art (as opposed to fine art)," by Carl Belz, a professor of art history at Brandeis University. Jon Carroll, writing a review of the book for Rolling Stone, sounded remarkably like his peers in the jazz world with his confession: "Personally, I remain unconvinced that rock should strive to be fine art, although the increasing selfconsciousness of the musicians may make it inevitable. It is our last spontaneous art: it would be a shame to lose it, whatever the aesthetic benefits."
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