Classic Fusion

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The Classic Fusion genre at JMA includes those jazz artists who added rock, funk and world beat influences to jazz in the late 60s and 70s, and also to those artists who continue to play in this original fusion style today. Some important leaders in this genre include; Larry Coryell, Tony Williams, John McLaughlin, Soft Machine, Miles Davis, Billy Cobham, Herbie Hancock, Weather Report and Return to Forever.

Rock musicians who use jazz as part of their musical language can be found in the Jazz Related Rock genre. Other more modern style jazz fusion artists can be found in the (Post 70s) Eclectic Fusion genre.

classic fusion top albums

Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm | 5 min. caching

MILES DAVIS In a Silent Way Album Cover In a Silent Way
MILES DAVIS
4.69 | 83 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK Crossings Album Cover Crossings
HERBIE HANCOCK
4.68 | 45 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Bitches Brew Album Cover Bitches Brew
MILES DAVIS
4.64 | 74 ratings
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MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA The Inner Mounting Flame Album Cover The Inner Mounting Flame
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA
4.65 | 56 ratings
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HIROMI Time Control Album Cover Time Control
HIROMI
4.76 | 18 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Get Up With It Album Cover Get Up With It
MILES DAVIS
4.71 | 24 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Dark Magus: Live at Carnegie Hall Album Cover Dark Magus: Live at Carnegie Hall
MILES DAVIS
4.69 | 22 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Pangaea Album Cover Pangaea
MILES DAVIS
4.70 | 18 ratings
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JEAN-LUC PONTY Enigmatic Ocean Album Cover Enigmatic Ocean
JEAN-LUC PONTY
4.67 | 20 ratings
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EDDIE HENDERSON Realization Album Cover Realization
EDDIE HENDERSON
4.79 | 10 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Live at the Fillmore East (March 7, 1970): It's About That Time Album Cover Live at the Fillmore East (March 7, 1970): It's About That Time
MILES DAVIS
4.83 | 8 ratings
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MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Birds of Fire Album Cover Birds of Fire
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA
4.48 | 59 ratings
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classic fusion Music Reviews

STEPS AHEAD / STEPS Modern Times

Album · 1984 · Classic Fusion
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Steve Wyzard
FAR AHEAD OF ITS TIME

Released in 1984, Modern Times, the group's second album as Steps Ahead, was a radical departure from their self-titled debut. Unlike the first album's mostly acoustic textures, Modern Times is a high-tech, futuristic, jazz-of-tomorrow fusion masterpiece. While many have used sequencers, throbbing synth-bass, and programmed percussion in a jazz context, to this day no one has done it better than this group on this album. Strong compositions, impassioned performances, and early DDD production are married to otherworldly yet urban atmospheres to create one of the best albums any of these distinguished players has ever appeared on.

Steps Ahead were always Mike Mainieri's group, and he is the only player to appear on every album. "Oops" and "Self Portrait" are classic Mainieri compositions: long-lined unforgettable melodies, loud/soft contrasts, quirky bridges, outstanding solos over synth splashes, and sudden endings. His two other songs on this album are a bit more eclectic. "Radio Active" is mostly programmed (special guest: Craig Peyton) and showcases Michael Brecker's multi-tracked licks and best soloing on the album. "Old Town" includes drumbox, gurgling synth loops, Tony Levin on the Chapman Stick, and Mainieri's marimba solo. Ubiquitous drummer Peter Erskine contributes the smooth "Now You Know" with guest (and future band member) Chuck Loeb on guitar, an exquisite Warren Bernhardt piano solo, and Brecker making a rare appearance on soprano sax. Brecker's only composition, "Safari", also features his soprano work before moving to the tenor and a brilliant Mainieri vibraphone solo. Bernhardt's "Modern Times" opens with intricate synth patterns and includes an Eddie Gomez bass solo that's almost drowned in the mix. In the interest of full disclosure, it should be mentioned here that while credited as a full band member, Gomez can only be heard on "Oops", "Modern Times", and "Now You Know". Not surprisingly, he has not appeared on another Steps Ahead album since.

While the shock of high-technology no doubt alienated some listeners, the gamble has paid off in that this album still sounds very, well, MODERN and contemporary over 30 years after its original release. Future Steps Ahead albums would never recapture the innovative, imaginative quality of Modern Times, and would add vocals and a revolving-door line-up that could never hold a candle to this original jazz "supergroup". If you're at all familiar with the players, Modern Times will provide a lifetime's worth of listening pleasure.

BOSQUE Four Noble Truths

Album · 2015 · Classic Fusion
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snobb
Bosque are the young fusion quintet from Serbia lead by bassist Miloš Bosnić. Their debut album "Four Noble Truths" contains four compositions, forty six and half minutes long in all.

Music is well recorded and ever better played - obviously influenced by European fusion of 70s skilled young musicians demonstrate precisely calculated high energy mixture.The opener "Residex P" recall Alan Holdsworth's guitar experiments from 80s, "Four Noble Truths"(longest album's composition lasting more than 21 minute) from very first seconds sounds as Mashavishnu Orchestra's reincarnation, but on the way changes lot of rhythms and structures.

"Millwall Park" is actually a mid-tempo bluesy rock ballad played by jazz fusion band.Album's closer,"River Pilot" opens with bass soloing against jazzy drumming and only after almost three minutes rest of the band starts to participate.This is album's jazziest composition with interesting sax,guitar and keyboards soloing.

Strongest debut parts are good communication between band members, strong interplay and technical musicianship plus respect to best classic fusion traditions. What I missed in their music most of all is adventure,search for new sounds and ways which is such important for any young band.

In all - strong album for fans of Allan Holdsworth and John McLaughlin music, it's great to see how young generation of Serbian jazz musicians returns to world jazz scene.

ALEX VOSTRIKOV Drifting. Part I

Album · 2015 · Classic Fusion
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snobb
Russian drummer and composer Alex Vostrikov is a leader of instrumental rock band Jam It! Differently from his band's music, on his solo album Alex doesn't play progressive rock, he plays jazz fusion, quite unusual one.

I can hardly remember drummer's album with such perfectly composed material! Obviously rooted in classical composition, music here doesn't sound as third stream or even chamber jazz, it has groove and lot of improvisations.All three musicians are equal co-leaders playing this beautiful music, sound is rich,full and tasty.

Besides of well-composed material, the other big advantage of this album music's is it represents very rare and fragile balance when no-one of its two strong components dominates in final mix. At every moments the listeners can hear classic piano and swing, groove and precisely played pre-composed piece,etc,etc. Bass line sounds as if it comes from "golden era" mainstream jazz, drummer doesn't try to impress listeners demonstrating his technical abilities even for a second. High energy comes from rock aesthetics but it doesn't destroy the elegance of music. Dramatic development is taken from classical tradition, but music doesn't become too formal or predictable, it looks Alex took best from jazz,classic and rock and very carefully,with big respect to each genre mixed it to his music, which sounds very familiar and unusually new at the same time.

HASHIMA Tideland

Album · 2015 · Classic Fusion
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snobb
Hashima is a quartet from Serbia - land with rich jazz history coming from previous century's 60s,70s and 80s, but becoming a terra incognita for European jazz fans starting from 90s and generally up to nowadays.

In a few words,Hashima is a semi-acoustic band where members with classic/folk/jazz background play music which by its aesthetics is closer to progressive rock than to any other genre.Their debut album "Tideland" contains six precisely executed compositions where almost classic attention to details is successfully mixed with free jazz elements and rock energy. Band's leader and main composer Igor Mišković plays semi-acoustic guitar on a manner one can rarely hear in jazz or rock. There are not many solos or shredding,often guitar sounds almost classical but regular drones build high energy "rockish" atmosphere.

Srđan Mijalković on tenor adds lot of folksy Balkan accents which never dominates though. Almost every composition contains some hotter moments with all instruments going to the limit but very soon returning back under full control. That full control on emotional flow is rare for jazz of any form and comes most probably from post rock of last decades.

The feeling of internal freedom and almost pedantic external control is probably the strongest impression which left after listening to whole album for few times. It builds very specific and quite unique atmosphere which radically differs from everything what Western Balkan jazz,traditionally known by its strong fusion guitarists, is presented before.

Natural question is how Hashima sounds live on gigs - recorded videos demonstrates more freedom and not so strictly controlled sound what adds more blood and adventure what is obviously for good.

DWIKI DHARMAWAN So Far So Close

Album · 2015 · Classic Fusion
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js
There was a time in the late 70s when the worlds of jazz fusion and progressive rock edged closer to each other, much of the resultant music still carries a strong international fan base, and those fans now have reason to rejoice over Dwiki Dharmawan’s “So Far So Close”, an album that recalls the heyday of orchestrated fusion without sounding a bit nostalgic or dated. This is jazz/prog rock fusion for the new century with lots of fresh modern elements. Although this is Dharmawan’s first release for a large international label (MoonJune), it is quickly apparent from listening to these sophisticated arrangements, that Dharmawan is a veteran of the music business with over 30 years under his belt.

As mentioned earlier, this is orchestrated electro-acoustic fusion that will may recall classic albums by Return to Forever, Weather Report and Bill Bruford, but Dharmawan also adds his own subtle Indonesian influences, both melodically and harmonically. “So Far So Close” opens strong with the aggressive fusion energy of “Arafura”, this one, and the other up-tempo numbers are nice, but the main album highlights are the two beautifully orchestrated ballades, “Bruno” and “Whale Dance”. One other cut that stands out is the avant-garde leaning “Jembrana’s Fantasy”, a track that mixes Indonesian gamelan with free jazz. Its an interesting cut, but it may seem at odds with the other tracks on the album. It might be nice if Dwiki, on future albums, mixed some of these avant-garde and fusion elements together on some cuts, instead of isolating those elements to separate tracks.

The keyboard list on here will bring back some very fond memories for many, its great to see brand names like Fender Rhodes, Hammond, Mini Moog and Hohner Clavinet all together on an album again. Along with Dharmawan’s excellent keyboard work, “So Far So Close” also features the top notch rhythm section of Jimmy Haslip and Chad Wackerman, as well as guest solo spots for Jerry Goodman, Dewa Budjana and Tohpati.

classic fusion movie reviews

WEATHER REPORT Live in Germany 1971

Movie · 2010 · Classic Fusion
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Sean Trane
Well if the world still has to find some live recording from the very first studio all-star line-up (not likely, though), at least we've got now something very close to and we can even see the quintet at work with this just-as-famous version in the form of a German TV show called the Beat Club. With only Airto Moreira gone, replaced by Brazilian countryman Um Romao, the other four being Vitous, Shorter, Mouzon and Zawinul, Weather Report embarked on this TV show adventure not knowing that Alphonse Mouzon would leave the band in a while.

As you'd expect this broadcast consisted mainly of tracks from the debut album, but some are fairly different as WR always made improvisation their force. So you'll recognize 'Umbrellas generic structure, but drafted fairly differently, not just because of Romao's constant change of percussions instruments - he's one of the visual focus of the group, who otherwise remains fairly static and even blows a flute (and later some whistles) for a short while. One of the big difference between the studio album and this broadcast is that Miroslav has taken up the electric bass (his contrabass is still very present but mainly played with a bow), thus allowing even more energy to invade the quintet's shared space. The group's steaming-hot improvised fusion is simply awesome and flows naturally from your speakers like a river of fresh lave spewing out from your volcanic woofers.

Clearly the gravitational centre of the band is Zawinul's Rhodes, but it is clear that it is the group's tightness its main force. Morning Lake is much needed breathing space, starting out slowly with Shorter's sax signalling the dawn for Romao's birdsongs. Just past that Dom pulls an Brazilian berimbau . Drummer Alphonse sings funkilly (rather well, too) a rare sung track in the closing medley, but it's will veer into the Dr Honoris Causa - later on the Body Electric album.

A while later, Mouzon would leave the band and be replaced by drummer Erik Gravatt and this line-up would go on to record Body Electric and the Tokyo concert (released in 77, but part of it in the ISTBE album) and in the process become the definitive line-up of the Vitous- era Weather Report But for now, this German TV broadcast is an inestimable witness of the group's almost original line-up, and is just as essential as their debut album, the Tokyo concert or Body Electric.Too bad it's relatively short, though. Run for this baby...

DIXIE DREGS Live At The Montreaux Jazz Festival

Movie · 2005 · Classic Fusion
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Slartibartfast
This was the Dixie Dregs lineup that I first come to know live and otherwise. The Montreaux Jazz Festival performance was used for side two of the LP Night of the Living Dregs. I had no idea the concert was filmed. This represents the band at their prime. Keyboardist Mark Parrish, would soon be replaced by T Lavitz, who is a better keyboard player, but this as this performance testifies, he was no slouch either. Oddly enough, the back cover of this DVD shows a band picture with the original keyboardist from Freefall, Steve Davidowski (guess there was only room for one Steve in this band). Steve Morse was at his most inspired around this time, even though he has certainly grown in skill over the years.

The set list is a little disappointing as it lacks some of the prime cuts from What If (Night Meets Light, Odyssey, Travel Tunes, What If), but I'm not complaining. Now I have something more than just memories of the many Dregs shows I saw back then. It is more of a forward looking set which includes Attila The Hun, that didn't show up on an album until three years later. Also of note, but of less interest to progressive rock fans, is the bluegrass style ditty, Kathreen, never released on a regular album, but only showed up on their demo album, The Great Spectacular, from 1975. If you have a copy of that album, you have something rare, indeed.

Thrown in for bonus are two live TV appearances, one on American Can'tstand (Bandstand) and one on Don Kirschner's Rock Concert. On the former, you get to see them both try out a vocalist, in an attempt to appeal to a more mainstream audience, and with Mark O'Connor, who only played with them for one album, but a few great live shows before the band disbanded for a few years.

As great as the band studio albums were, the live shows took things to an even higher level. Now you can see what you missed, unless you didn't.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Abstract Logix Live! / The New Universe Music Festival 2010

Movie · 2011 · Classic Fusion
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js
Abstract Logix’s New Universe Festival of 2010 was probably one of the more significant fusion concerts in recent history, and it is all captured in excellent form on this concert video. Many of the top names in current fusion are here and what a great varied and colorful approach they all bring to this music that will always be associated with its 70s roots. Ranjit Barot fuses fusion with Indian flavors and orchestral music, Human Element bring back the beautiful noise and chaos that has been absent since the early days of jazz-rock, Wayne Krantz takes on the modern NYC flavor with his harsh jarring free funk, Jimmy Herring plays sentimental, sometimes delicate, progressive rock flavored fusion, and of course the great John McLaughlin rounds it all up with high speed post bop mixed with funk and contemporary fusion. Every single performance is top notch and very convincing in letting us know that there is still plenty of life left in this sometimes maligned genre.

The music on here is great, but the video itself is even better. Its amazing how far concert videos have come over the years. This one is clear as a bell and features lots of accurate close-ups of the musicians as they display their virtuoso skills. They say that fusion is a musician’s music, if that is the case, then this video is a great learning tool for the aspiring player. Much of the footage on here goes right to the source and features the musician’s hands as they work their scales and fret boards. Any aspiring fusionist can pick up a lifetime of high speed licks and extended technique by studying this video and even stop-starting it it frame by frame. Long gone are the days of vague camera angles from way far away and pointless shots of musicians grimacing while they play, this video is all about accuracy and showing you exactly how this music goes down. This is a spirited and enthusiastic concert and highly recommended for fans of modern fusion.

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Live At Montreux 74/84

Movie · 2007 · Classic Fusion
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Slartibartfast
The 1984 appearance of the MO was a lineup that didn't have any of the previous MO lineup of musicians except for John. Still there was a pretty impressive roster. Jonas Hellborg, on bass, steals the show. I suspect he's been rather influenced by Jaco at this point. Also, we also have Bill Evans, fairly fresh out of his stint saxing with Miles Davis. There's also a fine drummer, Danny Gottlieb, who'd played with Pat Metheny prior. Don't know much about Mitchell Forman. With John experimenting with the Synclavier Guitar so much, the keyboards are almost redundant in this ensemble. I had a hard time sitting through this at first. It definitely has that '80's taint, if you know what I mean. But I've warmed up to it. It's a bit like an attempt to return to the magic of the original lineup that doesn't quite get there. Still, if you judge it in the context of the time, it's not too bad.

I got this for one reason and one reason only, it was the two video bits from the Apocalypse lineup of Mahavishu Orchestra. Actually calling them bits isn't quite accurate. Wings of Karma and Hymn to Him are actually decently long pieces. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had some actual orchestra musicians with them there at Montreaux. The first inkling I got that there was some live footage from this MO lineup was a poor quality video of Smile of the Beyond on a certain video clip web site many of us know of. It's very disappointing that we only get two clips from the show with video and the rest are audio only. I'm guessing the rest of the original footage has been lost. One can only hope that it will resurface. The performance is a bit more structured than the more compact MO's could be live, but that's to be expected due to the larger number of musician's involved. Still the core band does get to work in some improvisation, McLaughlin in particular.

This release is all in all a pleasant surprise for 2007, but there's more video out there from the older Mahavishu Orchestras, and I hope to see that material surface soon. It gets a four on the round up.

JEFF BECK Performing This Week...Live At Ronnie Scott's

Movie · 2008 · Classic Fusion
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Slartibartfast
Holy crap, there's a new Jeff Beck live DVD out there!.

...I thought as I saw this at the record store. This is why it's important to keep those local independent brick and mortar record stores open: you'll never know what you'll find browsing.

As near as I've been able to find out, Jeff Beck (THE Beck, not that other guy) hadn't been touring in a long time, but rather was sticking to special performances. To make up for it, sort of, he did a week's worth of shows at London's Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in late November 2007. I've never been there, but it looks a little large as some jazz clubs go but still reasonably intimate. I'm pretty sure you don't need binoculars to observe any performances there.

Jeff has assembled an interesting set of musicians, the oldest being Jeff himself (b. 1944), Vinnie Colaiuta (1956) on drums, Jason Rebello (1969) on keys, and Tal Wilkenfeld (1986) on bass. Vinnie I know best from association with Zappa, Jason's new to me but I found out has worked with Sting, Tal (new to the music scene) hails from Australia and judging from her performance she is someone to really keep your eye on. Guests appearances by Joss Stone, Imogen Heap, and Eric Clapton, heyyy.

The set list, not really the proper term as it must have been culled from all the shows, is an impressive collection of material spanning Jeff's career so far. Original stuff includes Beck's Bolero {is this not actually a cover?}, Led Boots, Scatterbrain, Angel, Blast From The East, Rollin' And Tumblin'. Also some nice covers thrown in for good measure including Eternity's Breath!, Cause We've Ended As Lovers {never really seemed like a cover to me}, People Get Ready, A Day In The Life, You Need Love). You also get some interviews as bonus material and the DVD booklet is a nice read. 21 tracks altogether, mixed in Dolby 5.1 and DTS surround sounds with a 16:9 video format, I might add.

Wish I was there but this is the next best thing. It's one hell of a way to experience one hell of a guitarist. It's a live assortment, but due the quality and quantity I am rounding this one up.

Artists with Classic Fusion release(s)

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