Eclectic Fusion

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Fusion was a term coined in the early 70s to designate a style of music that involved a combination of jazz, rock, funk and Latin styles. In the 80s a new style of fusion emerged that sometimes utilized those elements, but also turned to current musical developments such as punk, thrash metal, rap/hip-hop, neo-surf and diverse ethnic music such as klezmer, polka, Bulgarian wedding music and more. At JMA we call this 80s based fusion music, Eclectic Fusion. The Eclectic Fusion artist tends to be a bit more urban and hard edged than the 70s fusion artist, and is liable to call on a much more diverse array of influences. These artists can also be more prone towards an avant-garde and/or deconstructionist approach to their creations.

Some precedents to the Eclectic Fusion genre can be found in Miles Davis' "Black Magus" and Ornette Coleman's "Dancing in Your Head". Possibly the first full realization of Eclectic Fusion can be found in John Zorn's Naked City band. Other popular practitioners of Eclectic Fusion include Sax Ruins, Electric Masada, Panzerballet, Raoul Bjorkenheim's Krakatau, Led Bib, The Thing and Kazutoki Umezu.

eclectic fusion top albums

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MASADA At The Mountains Of Madness (Electric Masada) Album Cover At The Mountains Of Madness (Electric Masada)
MASADA
4.83 | 3 ratings
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DONNY MCCASLIN Beyond Now Album Cover Beyond Now
DONNY MCCASLIN
4.95 | 2 ratings
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SONNY SHARROCK Ask the Ages Album Cover Ask the Ages
SONNY SHARROCK
4.61 | 12 ratings
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CURLEW Live In Berlin Album Cover Live In Berlin
CURLEW
4.62 | 4 ratings
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CURLEW Bee Album Cover Bee
CURLEW
4.62 | 4 ratings
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AKA MOON In Real Time Album Cover In Real Time
AKA MOON
4.67 | 3 ratings
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PAUL MOTIAN Monk in Motian Album Cover Monk in Motian
PAUL MOTIAN
4.67 | 3 ratings
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PAUL MOTIAN The Paul Motian Trio at the Village Vanguard Album Cover The Paul Motian Trio at the Village Vanguard
PAUL MOTIAN
4.75 | 2 ratings
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PAUL MOTIAN Paul Motian Trio: Sound of Love Album Cover Paul Motian Trio: Sound of Love
PAUL MOTIAN
4.75 | 2 ratings
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BILL FRISELL Bill Frisell / Kermit Driscoll / Joey Baron ‎: Live Album Cover Bill Frisell / Kermit Driscoll / Joey Baron ‎: Live
BILL FRISELL
4.75 | 2 ratings
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BILL FRISELL Have a Little Faith Album Cover Have a Little Faith
BILL FRISELL
4.43 | 13 ratings
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KAZUTOKI UMEZU Eclecticism Album Cover Eclecticism
KAZUTOKI UMEZU
4.52 | 4 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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eclectic fusion Music Reviews

SONS OF KEMET Black To The Future

Album · 2021 · Eclectic Fusion
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snobb
Being a scene leader has its pros and cons. From the positive side, you are known, you have your followers and each of your new works is awaited. From the other side, there are expectations, a lot of them. And it's not an easy job to fulfill all of them. Some fans are waiting for another album of the music they know and like and any change in direction can disappoint them. Others are happy with what you already did but are not much interested in another "same" recording, so they are expecting from you something new. Doesn't matter what you do, some of your fans will be disappointed.

Shabaka Hutchings, who with no doubt is one of the leaders of the burgeoning London jazz scene, runs three different projects trying to solve above mentioned problems in a best possible way, and quite often he succeeds in it.

On "Back To Future" - the newest album from his most eclectic project Sons Of Kemet - is obvious continuation of quartet's previous work, extremely successful "Your Queen Is A Reptile", with some insignificant modifications.

On "Your Queen Is A Reptile", the band's debut on Impulse!, the quartet of sax player, tubist and two drummers went back to African roots, adding more percussive vibes with a big list of guesting additional drummers. Rapper/vocalist Joshua Idehen has been presented on the opener and closer, for the first time (both two early quartet albums were fully instrumental). On "Back To Future", Shabaka uses same formula, when Joshua Idehen opens and closes the show, but there are more guest vocalists on the album (incl. Angel Bat Dawid), as a result, whole recording sounds more as "singing music", rather than just instrumental. And Shabaka adds more brass instead of percussion too. From the musical side we have same Caribbean flavored marching semi melancholic tunes, just less percussive and slightly polished with electronics.

Shabaka obviously trying not to lose a successful formula of the previous album, only slightly modifying and refreshing the sound. As a result, we got an evolutional, not revolutionary work, still with easy recognizable Shabaka's sound.

HASHIMA Starry Night

Album · 2021 · Eclectic Fusion
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snobb
"Starry Night" is Serbian quartet Hashima's third album, and their second release for American label Odradek Records (who previously re-released Hashima's second, originally Serbia-released album "The Haywain", in 2019). It contains more eclectic material than their previous one, and muically it moves noticeably towards prog/post rock.

Above mentioned eclecticism is not strange at all, knowing that the compositions presented come from some very different sources. "Glaciers", "Eclipse" and "Muriel" are all recorded in the renown La Buissonne Studios in France and are rooted in the band leader Igor Mišković's childhood memories about some nights in 1999 when NATO planes bombed his hometown of Belgrade. These contain short lyrics and Igor's vocals.

NATO bombings of Serbia in 1999 is one of the most dramatic events in the country's last decade, and the memories about it are very fresh and emotive there till now. I haven't been there during the bombings, but my wife, who is native Serbian, was there and these nights in her hometown of Loznica where some military objects were bombed as well, are very fresh in her memory. I spent some years in early 00' living around Western Balkans, and I heard from many different people their memories about these days. One can see the building in a centre of Belgrade, half-destroyed by the bombings, still today, and it is obviously left unrepaired as a monument for the drama. As a result, in today's Serbia we have radically separated population by their opinion about the future - some see their future in modern Western world, as part of European civilization, and others - believing in some mystical "special way" (far not for the first time in the country's history), furiously proposed by Eurasian-Orthodox Russia.

Mišković himself, who is of a younger generation and saw these events more with child eyes, says in liner notes: "It had been a very odd and difficult situation and emotional experience to spend strangely beautiful childhood days during a period of bombing in Belgrade, Serbia in 1999". What I really like in these three songs there is some sadness, and some darkness, and a bit of melancholy, but there is no hate or hysteria, or pain. The world is more difficult than we would like it being, and sometimes things go not the way we would like them going, but we must to find the way to live in this real world.

Rest of the songs are all different but generally fit together with the first trilogy (which is obviously responsible for the album's title) quite well. "Dance No.1" is possibly the jazziest piece on the album with trombone soloing from guest star Italian Gianluca Petrella, still with very recognizable Hashima's mid-tempo slightly melancholic sound. "Release" is a live version of their debut album's song, presented here in collaboration with choir which builds a very church-like pastoral atmosphere.

The closer, "Junkopedia", is a soundtrack to a short movie about Serbian painter Leonid Šeika, an almost eight-minute long freer jazz piece.

In all, it's great to evidence that Hashima found their own recognizable sound, and continues releasing strong music and doesn't avoid some new searches.

TOMAS FUJIWARA Triple Double

Album · 2017 · Eclectic Fusion
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snobb
Boston-born Brooklyn-based drummer Tomas Fujiwara is quite well known by his participation in projects playing with Matana Roberts and Michael Formanek among many others. On "Triple Double", his own album as a leader, he combines two unorthodox horns-guitar-drums trios in one band (including 2/3 of the Thumbscrew trio, Halvorson and Fujiwara, but not Formanek).

All-star band of two drummers (Tomas Fujiwara & Gerald Cleaver), two guitarists (Mary Halvorson & Brandon Seabrook) and two horns (Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet & Ralph Alessi on trumpet) plays modern high energy fusion with lot of free jazz elements.

From the very first opening sounds with great old-fashioned separated by channels guitar's sound (with recognizable Halvorson's guitar on the left side and Seabrook on the right) it became obvious that "Triple Double" is not another explosive attack on listener's ears. With heavy anchoring drummers, often playing in unison and framing the music (with longish just-drummers solo piece), melodic and emotionally rich compositions sometimes sound as if they are complex rock pieces, but with all-the-time changing rhythms, plenty of guitar and horn free solos and in all very complex, almost big-bandish, multilayered sound remind listener that we're listening to a real jazz band.

Catchy tunes, excellent techniques and perfect interplay makes this album one great example of modern creative jazz, difficult to classify, and often because of that appealing to very different listeners. It would be extremely interesting to see such a band playing live, it looks like their announced 2020 European tour (with second trumpeter Adam O’Farrill instead of cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum) has been postponed due to COVID19 pandemic, with some concerts moved on-line.

MACHINE MASS Machine Mass Sextet : Intrusion

Album · 2021 · Eclectic Fusion
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js
“Intrusion” is the fourth album by Machine Mass, and it continues their tendency to try something new on each album. The core of the band is Michel Delville on guitar and Tony Bianco on drums. For this fourth album Michel brought on some cohorts from his jazz rock group, Wrong Object, Antoine Guenet on piano and Damien Campion on standup bass. Making the group a sextet are a horn frontline of Laurent Blondiau on trumpet and Manuel Hermia on saxophone. Despite the addition of a couple of rockers from Wrong Object, “Intrusion” is Machine Mass’ most jazz centered album to date, but there is also a good dose of their more expected psychedelic fusion too.

The album opens with Coltrane’s “Africa”, with the band staying true to the original’s spiritual jazz/post bop swing, with Delville’s scorching distorted guitar solo being a definite Machine Mass signature addition to this classic. Following track, “Intrusion”, is very much in the current North European jazz sound, and is a bit different from Mass’ previous albums. Its good for bands to try new things. From here we get a short free jazz section that settles into the off center funk fusion of “Not Another Loud Song”. “The Roll”, has Mass back on the modern jazz tip with that drumnbass bop style that is so popular in NYC these days, while “ED” brings the band back to their trademark psych fusion roots with a massive prog rock chord sequence buildup. The CD closes with Machine Mass’ second time to record “In a Silent Way”. Its hard to add much to this tune and Mass does about as well as anyone could hope to, Guenet’s piano chord voiceings add something unique.

VIKTOR TÓTH Viktor Tóth & Mahasimbadavi Players : Lamu

Live album · 2018 · Eclectic Fusion
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js
Jazz and rap coming together should be no surprise to anyone. Jazz musicians have been rapping since the turn of the previous century, Louis Jordan was known for his hip poetry and so was Duke Ellington, which brings us to this outstanding rap/jazz fusion CD from Viktor Toth’s Mahasimbadvi Players titled “Lamu”. Toth’s players are an international group that features Toth on sax, Bart Maris on trumpet, Simple One on lyrics and poetry, Matyas Szandi on bass and Hamid Drake and David Hodek on drums. Does anything sound more jazz than a boppin alto sax and trumpet front line. Toth and Maris’ energetic harmonies and unisons recall similar classic frontlines like Diz and Bird, Ornette and Don Cherry, and Dolphy and Booker Little. The Mahasimbadvi rhythm section provides kinetic support, often with African and Afro-Brazilian grooves, but also with forays into hip-hop and funk. The way in which this ensemble can combine an earthy backbone with avant-garde tendencies may remind some of The Art Ensemble of Chicago or The World Saxophone Quartet.

The make or break for this album is the rapping of Simple One, who comes through by perfectly balancing his role with the other musicians. If you were afraid that the rapping would dominate this recording, rest assured your fears are unwarranted. In fact, I found myself wishing Simple One had been given a little more room to go off. The man has a beautiful flow that is very syncopated and just as rhythmically complex as his fellow musicians. His word play is both thoughtful and humorous and holds up well to repeated listens. If you know your classic hip-hop than you will recognize when Simple One pulls out an old Q Tip audience call and response, “Can I Kick It …”, which the audience gladly calls back on. During some of his raps the horn players pull out Herbie Hancock’s modernized intro to “Watermelon Man”, which provides a very Africanized backdrop for our MC. Speaking of MC, Simple One also plays the part of the classic ‘emcee’ by giving props to the musicians and providing some humorous interplay with the audience. The musicians also get plenty of space to go off with solos and interlocking group rhythms. Toth has a hard edged alto sound that recalls Steve Coleman and Jackie McLean, and Bart Maris takes a very no gimmicks approach to the trumpet that recalls the aforementioned Booker Little, as well as Marquis Hill.

eclectic fusion movie reviews

MEDESKI MARTIN AND WOOD Fly In A Bottle

Movie · 2011 · Eclectic Fusion
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js
“Fly in a Bottle” is a documentary that follows Medeski, Martin and Wood while they are on tour developing the music that will become “Radiolarians”, as well as some of the recording sessions for that same album. The music on here is excellent, MM&W have a come a long way over the years. They were always a talented band from the start, but their confidence has grown. The funky tunes are funkier than ever, and the psychedelic jazz-rock tunes are more powerful, imaginative and original. Almost any music fan might enjoy watching their concerts and even some of their recording sessions, but a lot of the rest of this DVD is for hardcore fans only.

Along with the footage of MM&W playing music, you also get a lot of footage of them on tour visiting ecological tourist spots and talking, hanging out etc, which is where I think a lot of non-fans will probably start losing interest. They seem like nice sincere guys, but they aren’t particularly entertaining or charismatic, which is often the case with nice sincere guys. There are also some artsy short videos that follow the main feature, some more entertaining than others. Fans of MM&W may want to pick this up, it’s a well-made video and the music is excellent, but non-fans may find this lacking in substance in places.

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