"What a pleasure it is to read this insightful, exciting, and extremely well listened analysis of fusion music. Kevin Fellezs suggests new ways of understanding the four artists he profiles, develops a productive framework for rethinking fusion, and helps us to understand why artists and audiences were stimulated by this music even as it was dismissed by purists. Birds of Fire is a major contribution to rethinking the place of fusion within jazz studies, as well as broader questions of genre across disciplines." - Sherrie Tucker, Swing Shift: "All-Girl" Bands of the 1940s, co-editor of Big Ears: Listening for Gender in Jazz Studies
"More than a study of one underexplored market niche, Birds of Fire brilliantly illuminates how the market both inhibits and enables creativity, as well as how creative musicians challenge the music industry's narrowing and naturalizing of complicated, constructed, conflicted, and deeply contradictory social identities." - George Lipsitz, How Racism Takes Place; Dangerous Crossroads: Popular Music, Postmodernism and the Focus of Place; Footsteps in the Dark: The Hidden Histories of Popular Music
"Is there a musical field as maligned, scorned or critically underwritten as jazz-rock or 'fusion'? I don't say 'genre' because as Kevin Fellezs frequently observes in this eye-opening volume most of the music that falls into these categories
does so by deliberately, perhaps even defiantly, avoiding the generic form. Indeed he sees the featured musicians of this study as being amongst those who struck a blow against the
generic by refusing to allow their music to settle into a genre, even when discussing fusion itself - in fact especially then, as he talks about the 'not-quite-genre' of fusion . . . If you don't know the music he writes about yet, you'll want to soon. Recommended." - Peter Mills, Volume!
"Kevin Fellezs's Birds of Fire is a major contribution to American music history. Critically astute, brimming with insights, and prodigiously researched, Birds of Fire focuses on the efforts of four prominent fusion musicians to pursue new, liminal musical expressions across and between the established popular music genres of rock, jazz, and funk [. . .] Birds of Fire is a profound work of scholarship ; like the music it chronicles, Fellezs's book will inspire and enlighten musicians, music scholars, and music lovers alike." - Kevin Gaines, Journal of Popular Music Studies
"Kevin Fellezs has written a fine account of musical mixing in the 1970s , drawing
on published interviews from the time, biographies, recordings, liner notes, and
articles and reviews in the jazz, rock, and mainstream press. Depending on how you
count them, Birds of Fire has three or four introductions, and they are all valuable [. . .] I like the fact that Fellezs pulls fusion out of a jazz-centered frame and allows it to float equally between jazz, rock, and funk (with some folk thrown in, too), even though chapter 3 tips the scale a bit toward jazz. In other words, the author shows
that fusion was not just about adding things to jazz, but also involved a swerve for
rock and funk; Fellezs writes about these encounters as a scholar and fan of all sides.
Paired with Steven Pond's "Head Hunters": The Making of Jazz's First Platinum
Recording (Michigan, 2008), Birds of Fire could almost become the basis for a single, tightly focussed undergraduate course on fusion, and it certainly belongs on graduate reading lists in pop, jazz, and American music studies. " - Benjamin Piekut, American Studies
"Kevin Fellezs's Birds of Fire: Jazz, Rock, Funk and the Creation of Fusion gives a detailed history of the fusion movement of the 1960s and 1970s, with specific reference to four case studies: Tony Williams, John McLaughlin, Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock.
Fellezs's title refers both to McLaughlin's second album with the Mahavishnu
Orchestra and the 'airy yet luminous freedom these young musicians actively sought,
soaring between the categories on which musical practices and discourse rested and
that they believed all too often constrained their artistic efforts.'
"This is an excellent and engaging study of this under-represented musical
idiom [. . .] Birds of Fire will appeal to scholars and fans alike, with enough scholarly engagement for the former, and enough biographical and musical detail for the
latter." - Katherine Williams, Popular Music
"A welcome addition to jazz scholarship, Kevin Fellezs's Birds of Fire: Jazz, Rock, Funk, and the Creation of Fusion is a well-researched and thought-provoking book on fusion [. . .] Fellezs's book is a fascinating account of fusion from a postmodern perspective. In a way, it is not only fusion but also Fellezs's discussion of it that exists in the 'broken middle,' a space of contradiction, inconsistency, and ambivalence. The intended readership consists of those who are interested in exploring how social forces operate in music and those already acquainted with fusion, rather than general readers who seek a broad overview of it." - Eunmi Shim, Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association
"Fellezs should be credited with advancing a provocative thesis about a music that may signify a cultural disruption that continues to affect us today." - Burton Peretti, The Journal of American History
"Fellezs succeeds in being both academic and a fan. He succeeds in bringing these four artists in from the margins while recognising their cross-cultural capital lies in their non-belonging to any mainstream discourse." - Andy Robson, Jazzwise
"Fellezs offers fascinating biographical detail and the kind of serious critical overview that the music has long deserved. His knowledge is impressive, his perspective thought-provoking, reflected in fascinating historical tidbits and observations. . . . [O]ne-of-a-kind, critical reading." - Ken Micallef, Downbeat
". . . Birds of Fire (named for the second album by the Mahavishnu Orchestra) is actually a relatively easy read that posits some fascinating theories about how and why fusion developed and why it was embraced by some, castigated by others." - Andrey Henkin, New York City Jazz Record
For more information, and to order Birds of Fire directly from Duke University Press, please visit http://www.dukeupress.edu/Catalog/ViewProduct.php?productid=16310