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 | 60 min. caching

MILES DAVIS In a Silent Way Album Cover In a Silent Way
MILES DAVIS
4.69 | 86 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK Crossings Album Cover Crossings
HERBIE HANCOCK
4.67 | 47 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Bitches Brew Album Cover Bitches Brew
MILES DAVIS
4.64 | 78 ratings
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HIROMI Hiromi's Sonicbloom ‎: Time Control Album Cover Hiromi's Sonicbloom ‎: Time Control
HIROMI
4.76 | 20 ratings
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MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA The Inner Mounting Flame Album Cover The Inner Mounting Flame
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA
4.64 | 60 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Get Up With It Album Cover Get Up With It
MILES DAVIS
4.66 | 27 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Pangaea Album Cover Pangaea
MILES DAVIS
4.68 | 20 ratings
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JEAN-LUC PONTY Enigmatic Ocean Album Cover Enigmatic Ocean
JEAN-LUC PONTY
4.66 | 21 ratings
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EDDIE HENDERSON Realization Album Cover Realization
EDDIE HENDERSON
4.79 | 11 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Dark Magus: Live at Carnegie Hall Album Cover Dark Magus: Live at Carnegie Hall
MILES DAVIS
4.64 | 23 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
4.79 | 9 ratings
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TERJE RYPDAL Terje Rypdal Album Cover Terje Rypdal
TERJE RYPDAL
4.81 | 8 ratings
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This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy JMA!

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classic fusion Music Reviews

TRAIN Coo-Coo Out!

Album · 1977 · Classic Fusion
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Miler72
Just when you think you've heard it all in the world of fusion comes this obscure German group Train (not the American band who did "Meet Virginia" and "Hey Soul Sister") who only released one album in 1977, Coo Coo Out, and that was it. This is all over the place, and that's why I really enjoy, too many fusion albums end up sounding too samey in the end. At times they'll remind you a bit of Passport, thanks to the presence of sax, or perhaps Weather Report (the sax playing isn't as cheesy as Klaus Doldinger's frequently was), perhaps a bit of Soft Machine, the acoustic-side of John McLaughlin, and perhaps Chick Corea's Return to Forever. It's not the most original, but there are some really great and creative passages making this an album worth investigating. Sadly this was never reissued, so you'll have to fork the money for an original LP, as that's the only way you can get to hear this on solid format. The music is on the mellower side of fusion, but I'm happy to say it never falls into Fuzak territory, but on the other hand it doesn't go full-on Mahavishnu either. Is this a lost gem of fusion? You bet it is!

LAURA JURD Dinosaur : Together, As One

Album · 2016 · Classic Fusion
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snobb
Fresh wind from England - young London-based trumpeter Laura Jurd's new project Dinosaur just released their debut album, and the album sounds great!

On new album,four young guys play fun and full of positive energy jazz fusion, that kind Miles presented to the world on his music,coming from late 60s-early 70s, but with removed psychedelic component,so characteristic for "Bitches Brew" time. Instead Laura demonstrates attention to composition and as a result them all sound almost as pop (or rock) songs.

For sure it is not a level of innovation or experimentation what attracts in "Together, As One" - just there are already a few generations of listeners for whom "In A Silent Way" says close to nothing. Laura and Co. reinvent original jazz fusion (Miles Davis type) for Z-Generation using Miles legacy very carefully but at the same time making it sounding attractive for today's young listeners.

Mostly on every song Laura's trumpet flies over Hammond / Rhodes passages with tasteful and inventive support from rhythm section. Compositions are quite catchy and it is not strange first album reviews and massive live gigs program both already received very positive media around UK and in partially in continental Europe.

With no doubt one among most significant jazz releases coming from Britain this year.

EBERHARD WEBER The Colours of Chloë

Album · 1974 · Classic Fusion
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julie_hosier
My opinion is probably of less use, since I am not an avid listener of jazz, but this has to be my favorite album of all times.

It's almost like Weber's bass has a tone that is so unbelievably serene that no one could come close to mimicking it, like Jaco's bass guitar, or any guitar Pat Meheney uses. The interplay between this tone and Bruninghaus' piano work practically glues the two together, creating a feeling of synthesized nostalgia, a longing for a home you didn't know you had. My favorite track absolutely has to be the first one, More Colours.

GENE ESS Absurdist Theater

Album · 2016 · Classic Fusion
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Carmel
Award winning guitarist, Gene Ess, draws upon a sundry of experiences and a unique background to form his personal sound. Studying classical piano, Gene’s early years were filled with sounds of Beethoven and Chopin. Originally from Tokyo, Japan Ess grew up on a U.S. Air Force Base on Okinawa, Ess was deeply and simultaneously receiving a mix of influences: from the indigenous music of Okinawa - to the pop and jazz music coming out of the clubs for the American soldiers. These beginnings would send him on a lifelong quest to reach for creative heights in his music.

His new album, Absurdist Theater, is slated to be released late September, 2016. Drawing upon his working group Fractal Attraction, Gene is joined by Thana Alexa (voice), Manuel Valera (piano), Yasushi Nakamura (bass), and Clarence Penn (drums). This set of new compositions continues Gene’s exploration of using voice as an instrument in a chamber group setting.

The album begins with a new and appropriately titled opening, “Out of the Ashes” signaled with Thana Alexa’s poignant and powerfully evocative voice. Gene begins the ascent of greatness, his guitar pulses the path and both Valera and Ess create a colorful fabric of intricate note choices, tension and forward motion. The gritty electric sound of Ess’ guitar is warm and round creating a muscular tautness and then release, that gives way to Valera’s colorized building choices. Penn uses his kit to create peaks and valleys to propel the track to a complex, yet rich sound that clearly sets the album in modern jazz territory.

“Circe’s Compassion” gives the listener a chance to hear Ess on nylon strung guitar, the group delicately supports, while not over bearing the acoustic sound. Like a story of life, each section begs its own story; Alexa’s voice is warm yet commanding and is exclusively used as an instrument; this is where Ess’ ideas are and have been ahead of their time on his Fractal Attraction outings and way ahead of the curve, though many groups are beginning to use a vocalist in the instrument seat, it is Ess that as an instrumentalist saw and understood the value of the human voice in what is typically known to be an instrumental only setting by utilizing the strengths and uniqueness of Alexa’s instrument as a leader (group member) in the collaborative band sound.

Ess spent time in San Jose which is about 30km from the city of Almeria, which is on the southern coast of Spain, it was here he composed much of what is comprised within the hallows of Absurdist Theater. “Déjala Que Pase,” a product of this time, begins with darkly hued lyrics that explore the meaning of existence, and features Alexa in full lyric vocals, her voice is filled with a story quality with abilities to transition from head voice to chest voice with ease of shift. The group creates a flurry of notes and crashes to build to a transition that soars into ethereal heights of transcendence. One feels as if they are on a journey of “themselves” while listening. A musical dynamic release brings the lyric back into play as each word is treated with loving delivery for its most poignant message.

The closer “Upward and Onward!” is a hard-swinging fast paced burner that also gives the listener compositional twists and turns of rhythmic interludes. Each player is more than up to the task, and each display a tightly woven interactive feel that pushes forward with intensity and excitement. Jazz can be an emotion filled listen in the right hands, and Ess and Fractal Attraction have certainly brought this sound to the forefront in Absurdist Theater, the next generation of jazz makers are like their predecessors, pushing the envelope, and this is a letter I love to read. Well done, expertly executed, making absurdity lose its sting to the sheer joy of beautiful music.

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA The Inner Mounting Flame

Album · 1971 · Classic Fusion
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Modrigue
The primal flame to really fused jazz and rock?

This is perhaps what a volcanic eruption may sound like...

First effort of one of the big 3 fusion bands of the 70's, with WEATHER REPORT and RETURN TO FOREVER, "The Inner Mounting Flame" can be considered as the first record to genuinely combine the raw fury of hard rock with free unconstrained jazz. Of course, funk, jazzy rock or jazz incorporating rock elements have already been heard since the end of the 60's, but I cannot think any other artist went so far in this fusion of genres before. Compared to pioneering records such as Miles Davis' "In a Silent Way" or Frank Zappa's "Hot Rats", "The Inner Mounting Flame" marks a clear evolution. This debut album is a pure magma, an acoustic and electric maelstrom sculpting heavy musical mantras inside mountains. Jazz, rock, blues and Indian ragas find themselves melted together to fuel an unique loud, rapid and mystical fire, with multiple uncommon time signatures and complex rhythms.

Like most line-ups from this time period, MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA's members are all virtuosi in their respective instrument and form a true dream-team: incredible guitarist John McLaughlin, who just spent 2 years at Miles Davis' school to record no less than pioneering albums, organist Jan Hammer, who will later compose Miami Vice theme, whirlwinding violinist Jerry Goodman, bassist Rick Laird and extraordinary drummer Billy Cobham. The fast and spiritual aspects of the music is logical when you know John McLaughlin was the only composer as well as a disciple of the Indian guru Sri Chinmoy. That's certainly where these stylistic choices come from.

The disc opens with the incandescent "Meeting Of The Spirits". Violin and drum explodes in a lava of burning guitars. Wow! After all this condensed fury, "Dawn" arrives as a welcomed spacey pause. A calm beautiful jazzy and bluesy kind of ballad. Then appears the raging "Noonward Race". This high-speed delirium jazzy hard-rock can stand for an overboosted jam. In contrast, "A Lotus On Irish Streams" is the perfect soundtrack to wander barefoot in peaceful hanging gardens. A bit mystical and dominated by Jan Hammer's relaxing keyboard textures, this track is a delicate and soothing passage.

Back to life with "Vital Transformation", maybe the hottest and grooviest composition of the album. Not really sounding like an ancient Center American ritual, "The Dance Of Maya" starts with a dark oppressive pattern. This first half tends to become a little repetitive though. Then it surprisingly mutates into a heavy blues-rock! The slow desert jam "You Know, You Know" is enjoyable, nonetheless not varied enough. The record finishes in fireworks with its wildest track, "Awakening". A thundering and breathtaking piece, fast-paced, with multiple breaks and corrosive moments. Guitar, bass, violin, keyboards, drums, each musician displays his virtuosity here!

As the debut opus of a legendary band, "The Inner Mounting Flame" was already, and still remains nowadays, a true sonic blast, stunning and innovative. Such an advanced mixture of hard rock with complex time signatures in the improvisational jazz mold was never heard at the dawn of the 70's.

Simply an essential listen for anyone interested in fusion music. Not the most accessible MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA offering, but undoubtedly their rawest!

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.

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