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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LIBERATION PROPHECY Last Exit Angel Album Cover Last Exit Angel
5.00 | 2 ratings
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MASADA At The Mountains Of Madness (Electric Masada) Album Cover At The Mountains Of Madness (Electric Masada)
4.83 | 3 ratings
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DONNY MCCASLIN Beyond Now Album Cover Beyond Now
4.95 | 2 ratings
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SONNY SHARROCK Ask the Ages Album Cover Ask the Ages
4.61 | 12 ratings
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CURLEW Live In Berlin Album Cover Live In Berlin
4.62 | 4 ratings
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CURLEW Bee Album Cover Bee
4.62 | 4 ratings
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AKA MOON In Real Time Album Cover In Real Time
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
4.75 | 2 ratings
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PAUL MOTIAN Paul Motian Trio: Sound of Love Album Cover Paul Motian Trio: Sound of Love
4.75 | 2 ratings
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KAZUTOKI UMEZU Eclecticism Album Cover Eclecticism
4.52 | 4 ratings
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BILL FRISELL Have a Little Faith Album Cover Have a Little Faith
4.40 | 11 ratings
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PAUL MOTIAN Paul Motian Trio: It Should Have Happened a Long Time Ago Album Cover Paul Motian Trio: It Should Have Happened a Long Time Ago
4.48 | 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


Live album · 2020 · Eclectic Fusion
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Five years ago I saw Christian Scott playing live on his European tour with almost the same band (vocalist Isadora Mendez Scott is not on board, sax player Braxton Cook instead of current Alex Han and percussionist Joe Dyson instead of Weedie Braimah). He sounded quite similar to what is recorded on this newest album "Axiom", just here he sounds a bit better.

Exactly as during the gig I saw live, Scott speaks a lot, plays trumpet and manages his band well. Flutist Elena Pinderhughes is a night's star filling space with nice solos generally, not too knotty for the band's music. Lawrence Field's retro keys sound great and add a lot of 70s spirit.

Comparing with some of Scott's last studio albums, music here is much more organic, and that's for good. There is a groove and a lot of African percussion, and in general this album is not much different from today's popular London based African fusion influenced sound.

Exactly as during the concert I saw, songs here are quite long, being accessible and not too complex, the lengthiness can make the album simply sound a bit bulky as a result. Still, taking in account all the pros and cons, "Axiom" is probably the best Scott album I have ever heard.

KIRK KNUFFKE Brightness : Live in Amsterdam

Live album · 2020 · Eclectic Fusion
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Kirk Knuffke, a cornetist based in New York since 2005, is one of this generation's leading artists on his instrument. He's played with William Parker, Roswell Rudd, John Zorn, Dave Douglas, Myra Melford and Jon Irabagon among many others, and has built a strong reputation as an inventive and skilled side-artist.

He started recording as a leader in 2008, he moved from freer avant-garde jazz to various forms of free-bop, finding there his own easily recognizable sound. It came almost as a surprise to realize that after twelve years and a series of his own albums, "Brightness.." is Knuffke's first ever released live album (European "Chew Your Food" live album from 2010 is more a collective Knuffke-Ellis-Wollesen trio work).

Following Knuffke music for some years, it always attracted me for being unpredictable. Having his own signature sound, Knuffke never plays the same things twice. All of his albums are recorded with different line-ups and/or different, sometimes quite unorthodox, concepts (a great example is his "Witness" from 2018 - cornet/clarinet/piano trio in support of operatic baritone Steven Herring singing standards, some arias and a few Knuffke originals).

For those new to Knuffke's music, the best parallel is Eric Dolphy's transitional period works, except Dolphy did a great step from bop to free, Knuffke five decades after moves in the opposite direction.

On "Brightness", bare-naked cornet-bass-drums trio plays in soft and warm atmosphere of Amsterdam's most legendary jazz club - Bimhuis. In fact, current Knuffke's trio with drummer Bill Goodwin and bassist Mark Helias is half of 2015's Knuffke sextet, responsible for the release of the notable "Arms And Hands" album.

Seven compositions, all tuneful (similar to a modern standards of sort) are played with a lot of inspiration and grace, still with a strong feel for early bop. Vibrato-less clear sound of cornet draws moody melodies with relaxed beauty, adding freer solos here and there and leaving enough space for deep physical bass soloing and swinging drums, and - probably for the first time ever - Kirk sings on "The Mob, The Crown, The Mass".

Returning back to the parallels with Dolphy's music, Knuffke in fact plays same free-bop as Dolphy did. Just if Dolphy started on ground moving to faster, freer more chaotic sound, Knuffke returns back bop-rooted avant-garde jazz back to its roots.

Simply and great - just can't stop listening to it again and again.

It's interesting, that just a few days ago Knuffke released his second album this same year, this time on the European SteepleChase label and in accordance with the label's reputation - a bit more conservative. Still, he again chooses a trio format - not really a traditional one, with Kenny Wollesen on drums and Bob Stewart on tuba. Kirk can't stop surprising his fans again.

GINGER BAKER Ginger Baker Trio ‎: Going Back Home

Album · 1994 · Eclectic Fusion
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Imagine British rock supergroup Cream with jazz bassist Charlie Haden instead of Jack Bruce and Americana-jazz guitarist Bill Frisell instead of Eric Clapton. Here they are - original Cream drummer-led Ginger Baker Trio. They sound actually as it looks on paper - quite odd.

Frisell fans will recognize his guitar sound from very first seconds, and it stays a signature sound for all of the album. Haden, most of the time, stays on safe support, but Baker's ambition to be a leader is obvious, not always for good. His playing recalls an elephant, dancing in a crystal glass room, elegance (with big help of strangely sounding drum set, probably a rock band's one), and this thunder like drums are placed on the front of the sound mix.

Two standards (incl.Monk's Straight, No Chaser) sound unusual, but hardly all that attractive. Other songs are members' originals, some sound more like rock songs (and they are probably among the better songs). Most of the time I've been thinking that this album's edition in "minus one" format (without the drummer, of course) would sound really more attractive (if a bit too sleepy, as many similar Frisell works). In general, all the music sounds as if it has been recorded separately by each musician at home and then mixed as one in the studio, not a good feeling for jazz of any form.

Not really unlistenable, this album has its attraction in the weird combination of musicians, but too often it doesn't work properly.

AVRAM FEFER Avram Fefer Quartet : Testament

Album · 2019 · Eclectic Fusion
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Sax player Avram Fefer's trio, already known from their two previously released albums, has improved with their new release by adding cult guitarist Marc Ribot. The final result is accessible and enjoyable music, a mix of all-in-one but without possibly expecting chaos.

There are a lot of things happening when you start listening, and it's difficult to decide whether it is a jamming rock band led by shredding guitar hero Marc Ribot, or is it an Ayleresque avant-garde jazz quartet with tuneful high energy saxist Fefer on the front. Up tempo compositions contain explosive guitars, a lot of exotic influences (from African to klezmer), and very groovy pushing ahead rhythm section.

Different from many bands of the same genre, Fefer's quartet doesn't sound too serious, too complex or too abstract - not at all. Just don't expect to find any directions here - the musicians obviously enjoy playing their music and they expect the listener feels the same way.


Live album · 2017 · Eclectic Fusion
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After discovering Hans Koller's impressive 1974 release, "Kunstkopfindianer," I came across this live recording of the same line-up for that album. This CD release is on the B.Free label, which is listed as a bootleg label on Discogs, yet the parent label, Be!Sharp, is not listed as such. Bootleg or not, the sound quality on this release is excellent. The packaging states that it was recorded May 15, 1974 in Cologne, Germany "from the original tapes in pristine audio," and it certainly sounds that way. This was apparently taped for a radio broadcast. Along with Koller are Wolfgang Dauner on keys, Zbigniew Seifert on violin and alto sax, Adelhard Roidinger on bass, and Janusz Stefanski on drums.

This live recording draws from the material on the album "Kunstkopfindianer," but, like any good live performance, expands the boundaries of the studio recordings. The avant-garde/free jazz aspects of "Kunstkopfindianer" are further explored here, making it a more challenging listen than the studio versions. That's not to say it isn't good, you just need more attention and patience when listening. "Nome" (the song) is a whopping 40 plus minutes long, a huge leap from the mere 6 1/2 minutes of the studio version. The remaining 35 minutes consist of 3 other tracks from the studio album and some needlessly included announcements.

As would be expected, the musicianship displayed here is top-notch, and, as mentioned above, the recording is impeccable. Overall, a wonderful document of a great group of musicians at the top of their game. If you like "Kunstkopfindianer" or Dauner's experimental jazz and fusion, then this is a must-hear. 4 stars.

eclectic fusion movie reviews


Movie · 2011 · Eclectic Fusion
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“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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