Fusion

Jazz music community with review and forums

Rock and RnB came from jazz in the 1940s via the jump blues genre. Needless to say, over the years jazz, rock and RnB have enjoyed a close relationship and have cross-influenced each other from the beginning. In the mid to late 60s, rock and RnB under went major changes with rock becoming much louder and more experimental under the influence of artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Cream, while RnB became more syncopated and abstract with the new funk sound created by James Brown, Bootsy Collins, Sly Stone and Larry Graham. Meanwhile, Latin jazz was undergoing similar experimental changes under the guidance of artists such as Hermato Pascoal and Flora Purim.

At this point in the mid to late 60s, any intersection between jazz, rock, funk and Latin became a radically different form of music that eventually came to be called fusion. Pioneers in the world of fusion include Larry Coryell, Jermy Steig, Gary Burton, Don Ellis, Chico Hamilton, Charles Lloyd, Jack DeJohnette, John McLaughlin, Tony Williams, Soft Machine, Brian Auger, Miles Davis, Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea and Dreams (Billy Cobham and the Brecker Brothers)

fusion top albums

Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm | 24 hours caching

MILES DAVIS In a Silent Way Album Cover In a Silent Way
MILES DAVIS
4.68 | 111 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Bitches Brew Album Cover Bitches Brew
MILES DAVIS
4.58 | 99 ratings
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MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA The Inner Mounting Flame Album Cover The Inner Mounting Flame
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA
4.58 | 77 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK Crossings Album Cover Crossings
HERBIE HANCOCK
4.57 | 60 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
4.71 | 12 ratings
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MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Birds of Fire Album Cover Birds of Fire
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA
4.49 | 79 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Dark Magus: Live at Carnegie Hall Album Cover Dark Magus: Live at Carnegie Hall
MILES DAVIS
4.53 | 29 ratings
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EDDIE HENDERSON Realization Album Cover Realization
EDDIE HENDERSON
4.58 | 16 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Big Fun Album Cover Big Fun
MILES DAVIS
4.47 | 33 ratings
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PAT METHENY Pat Metheny Group : The Way Up Album Cover Pat Metheny Group : The Way Up
PAT METHENY
4.47 | 29 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Pangaea Album Cover Pangaea
MILES DAVIS
4.46 | 25 ratings
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BILLY COBHAM Shabazz Album Cover Shabazz
BILLY COBHAM
4.49 | 18 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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fusion Music Reviews

STANLEY CLARKE Stanley Clarke

Album · 1974 · Fusion
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Steak Handsome
This Stanley Clarke album is for me as a newcommer to fusion jazz a real revelation. It has some of the finest drumming I have heard, and nice bass parts which is why I found Stanley Clarke. I have heard almost all the albums of Return to forever and find them very fine, but I like this album more, and find it great all the way. I have earlier listened to Jan Hammer and when it comes to make the keyboard parts great he is almost as good as Chick Corea. All in all this is a great album for new listeners who come from progrock or heavy rock, and if it is given a chance it will be an album that can be heard over and over again.

ALLAN HOLDSWORTH Leverkusen '97

Live album · 2021 · Fusion
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Maxsmusic
The series of live recordings recently released for Allan and his various incarnations of trios and quartets are outstanding. This one from 1997 shows Allan in Germany with Chad and Dave. The album is dedicated to Allan and the late Dave Carpenter (1959 - 2008). The first track: The Sixteen Men of Tain is one of Allan's best late compositions. He also includes his classic tracks such as Letters of Marque, Looking Glass and House of Mirrors. Phenomenal musicianship permeates this session. For any fan of electric jazz guitar this is a must have. The legato is flying. 4.25 stars

HADLEY CALIMAN Iapetus

Album · 1972 · Fusion
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js
Hadley Caliman is not nearly as known as he should be, but there is one recording he appears on that many have heard many times over the years. Hadley is the lone saxophonist who opens up Santana’s “Caravanserai” album. How many times have you heard that solo with the crickets chirping in the background, it features a lot of Hadley’s signature technique as he works with overtones and split tones. “Iapetus” is one of Hadley’s many albums as a leader, and it is one that should appeal to fans of the psychedelic avant-garde fusion of the early 70s best represented by Herbie Hancock’s “Crossings” album. Along with Hadley, a major player on here is keyboardist Todd Cochran, who went on to play on many jazz, fusion and prog rock albums over the years.

Lets break down the tunes. Opener “Watercress” is dissonant funky fusion, very much in a Miles type mode. “Ambivalence” is a post bop number with a lot of start stop changes and sounds very much like today’s NYC scene. Closing out side one we get, “Dee’s Glee”, which is powered by Caliman’s muscular flute playing as he battles drummer Woody Theus as they move from a loose waltz time into free jazz and back again. Flipping the album for side two, we get the lengthy title track that shifts from free jazz to a post bop walking bass that accelerates in tempo, a pretty bold move for this time period and sounding again like today’s ultra-modern crowd. Next up is the funky African groove of “Quadrivium”, once again featuring Caliman’s power flute backed by three percussionists and Todd’s wah wah spice Fender Rhodes. An abstract ballad with a touch of the blues closes things out.

If you like albums like “Crossings” or Miles’ “Live at the Fillmore”, “Iapetus” is a must have. The playing on here is spirited and creative and so are the arrangements. These guys can do it all, from straight up jazz, to fusion, psychedelic soundscapes and free improvisation too.

GEORGE BENSON Space

Album · 1978 · Fusion
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as1978
George Benson is a fantastic guitarist and, author. He has won several "Grammys" and is also known in the Rock world. Also because he is really a musician who knows how to combine Jazz with Rock, Funky and Soul and he always knows how to be himself.

In 1978 the compilation "Space" was released which opens with a "Funky" version (even if only as an arrangement) of "Hold On, I'm Coming" by Sam & Dave which is an unreleased (from the sessions of "Good King Bad ") and that I really like it a lot because of the Funky component, which makes it very Rock. But, with "summertime" (like all other songs it is live from "In Concert-Carnegie Hall" as "Sky Dive" which is unreleased as a recording), Soul comes to the surface. A Motown Soul. And the two aspects of George Benson are placed side by side without fear of making it appear that they are different genres or artists. However, what is surprising is the extreme versatility of a unique artist."Space" continues, after the first two pieces, in favor of a very linear and technical Jazz with a gram warmth that came to us fresh and not at all aged and flows away perfect and relaxing in its very recognizable sounds.

I don't rate "Space" as a proper compilation. To me it sounds more like a studio & live album, due to the two unreleased albums and I can say it's a really good album. Which I really recommend to all lovers of good music.

GAETANO LETIZIA Chartreuse

Album · 2021 · Fusion
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js
Next up in the ongoing series on jazz musicians who should be better known is guitarist Gaetano Letizia, or Tom as his friends and musical cohorts know him. Letizia is an excellent guitarist who combines jazz, funk, reggae, RnB, blues and Latin jazz in his playing. He sites Wes Montgomery as an influence, as well as two famous cats he’s had lessons with, George Benson and Pat Martino. You can hear all that in his playing, plus bluesy boppers like Joe Pass and Barney Kessel, as well as modern funkateer, John Scofield. Tom has performed with top name artists and has released albums regularly over the years, but perhaps he is not better known because he works out of Cleveland and performs a lot in the mid-west. Not only is Leticia a guitarist, but also a composer who has studied advanced composition techniques under Joseph Schillinger. Tom’s latest album, “Chartreuse” is a suite of sorts that covers eclectic music genres including hard bop, RnB, Latin jazz, impressionistic ballads and more. Joining Letizia on this album is a great quartet, with honorable mention going to saxophonist Bob Esterle, whose hard RnB tone can recall Maceo Parker and Bennie Maupin, while his solos carry a bebop flow complete with occasional Charlie Parker quotes. Another interesting band member is keyboardist Theron Brown, who was chosen to play the young Herbie Hancock in the recent movie about Miles Davis.

As mentioned earlier, this is a very eclectic album covering many musical genres. Some top cuts include the energetic hard bop groove of “Back and Blue”, and the very funky “Punch Drunk”. Letizia puts his composition chops to work on the ballads, “Paradise Found” and “Wandering”. On these two we hear interesting chord progressions that defy cliché and expectations. Two Latin numbers sans saxophone and a couple more RnB cuts round out the album. The playing on here is loose and relaxed and it sounds very much like a one take live album. I suppose maybe it was live in the studio. Recommended for fans of music that strikes a middle ground between jazz and RnB.

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WEATHER REPORT Live in Germany 1971

Movie · 2010 · 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 · 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 · 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 · 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 · 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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