Fusion

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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, 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

HERBIE HANCOCK Crossings Album Cover Crossings
HERBIE HANCOCK
4.62 | 49 ratings
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MILES DAVIS In a Silent Way Album Cover In a Silent Way
MILES DAVIS
4.57 | 94 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Bitches Brew Album Cover Bitches Brew
MILES DAVIS
4.56 | 83 ratings
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MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA The Inner Mounting Flame Album Cover The Inner Mounting Flame
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA
4.56 | 65 ratings
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BILLY COBHAM Shabazz Album Cover Shabazz
BILLY COBHAM
4.67 | 14 ratings
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MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Birds of Fire Album Cover Birds of Fire
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA
4.47 | 66 ratings
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EDDIE HENDERSON Realization Album Cover Realization
EDDIE HENDERSON
4.62 | 12 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Dark Magus: Live at Carnegie Hall Album Cover Dark Magus: Live at Carnegie Hall
MILES DAVIS
4.51 | 24 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
4.67 | 9 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Pangaea Album Cover Pangaea
MILES DAVIS
4.47 | 21 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Big Fun Album Cover Big Fun
MILES DAVIS
4.42 | 25 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK Sextant Album Cover Sextant
HERBIE HANCOCK
4.39 | 38 ratings
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Peaches en Regalia
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fusion Music Reviews

SOFT MACHINE Hidden Details

Album · 2018 · Fusion
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js
Its nice to see the longest running act in the world of jazz-rock fusion is still at it, but its even nicer hearing them operating at a creative peak more similar to their early years. I don’t know if this is a live in the studio performance, but it sounds like one. The songs naturally segue way into each other, and there is no evidence of over dubs as every performer is quite clearly in the moment and interacting with their band mates. At this point in their career, Soft Machine are able to cover all the different phases of their past, particularly their jazzy horn driven music of the early 70s, and their more muscular guitar driven jazz-rock of the mid-70s. What’s particularly notable about the current lineup is that they often break things down so that only one or two people are carefully interacting and taking their time building unique sounds and melodies. These frequent changes in ensemble makeup and texture help make “Hidden Details” the interesting listen that it is.

As mentioned earlier, the many styles of Soft Machine are on display here. There are a couple of lengthy funky rock numbers for those who seek the guitar shredding of Chris Etheridge. Theo Travis shines on flute on some up tempo jazz, and on “Life on Bridges”, the whole band goes off on a noisy free improv. “Heart Off Guard” and “Broken Hill” contain moments of pure pastoral melody, and elsewhere they re-visit Soft Machine’s classic minimalist tributes to Terry Riley. There are a couple tracks from previous Soft albums, but this band clearly puts their own stamp on those cuts. The album closes on a good note with the floating looped sounds of Travis' flute. “Hidden Details” is one of the better Soft Machine albums to come out in a while, In particular, Theo Travis on woodwinds and keyboards seems to be in touch with those elements that constituted some of this band’s best music.

WADADA LEO SMITH Najwa

Album · 2017 · Fusion
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Matt
Variety seems to be the key with the latest batch of releases from Wadada Leo Smith with “Najwa” continuing that mode in an exceptional manner. The prior album “ America’s National Parks” played by Wadada’s Golden Quintet was quite an outstanding effort and deservingly so, being highly regarded after the double album’s release last year in 2016. “Najwa” is quite a different beast being Fusion but this is not Miles Davis or The Mahavishnu Orchestra albeit there are elements contained but due to Bill Laswell’s presence on the album playing electric bass, providing the Mix and the addition of four Electric Guitarists, we are veering just as close to Praxis and Material.

Jazz though is still the key “Ornette Coleman’s Harmolodic Sonic Hierograhic Forms: A Reasonance Change In The Millennium” is performed as a suite with varying times and some stunning trumpet from Wadada in conjunction with the guitarists providing quite a diverse sound with their input but Bill Laswell’s bass is grumbling and booming in the distinct manner that he play’s right along with them. Track 3 “Najwa” is a short dreamy piece. I have to admit when I first saw the title for the next track “Ronald Shannon Jackson: The Master of Symphonic Drumming and Multi Sonic Rhythms, Inscription of a Rare Beauty” I was ready for long percussion pieces but not so, although drum driven there is plenty addition from the band with some great guitar work injected with Wadada’s trumpet thankfully. “The Empress, Lady Day: In a Rainbow Garden, with Yellow-Gold Hot Springs, Surrounded by Exotic Plants and Flowers” finishes the album up in a contemplative manner with pieces from the various musicians floating across an ambient ether that only Bill Laswell could Mix. Track 2 the dedication to John Coltrane has the same high standard.

10000 VARIOUS ARTISTS Various ‎– The Progressives

Boxset / Compilation · 1973 · Fusion
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js
Often label samplers have a few interesting songs and then the rest is just filler. This is not the case with this Columbia double LP from the early 70s. Almost every song on here is a complete gem full of high energy performances and very unique compositions. In the early 70s many talented performers and composers with backgrounds in rock and jazz began to merge these two idioms with the exploratory nature of 20th century concert hall music. The end result, as this record shows, was an infinite variety of sounds, structures and improvisations.

On Weather Report's "Unknown Soldier", Gregorian vocals alternate with Stravinsky meets Herbie Hancock horn and reed lines till they are interrupted by ominous warning sirens ala Edgar Varese. The whole song is driven by an understated but restless free jazz double time rhythm and has a middle section that allows Wayne Shorter to really go off.

"Sundance" by Keith Jarrett is a particularly fun and energetic piece by this often dour and introspective pianist. On this cut he gives us rock influenced free jazz somewhat similar to Miles at the Fillmore. The amazing rhythm section of Paul Motion and Charlie Haden, as well as the energetic guitar work of Sam Brown help add to the kinetic and almost chaotic atmosphere. "Jump Monk" features Charles Mingus leading a free wheeling avant big band through a great Ellington influenced old school noir jazz tune that is totally infectious in it's good time grooves.

Some of the album's rock highlights include "Knots" by Gentle Giant, an amazing piece that mixes pre-classical and 20th century composition with heavy progressive rock and avant - garde jazz. The song has a tight structure that doesn't waste a note in it's deliberate unfolding. On "Marchides", Matching Mole displays their odd take on jazz rock with a middle section that consists of a repeating whole tone pattern on electric piano topped by a bass solo.

Other top tracks include Ornette Coleman playing beautifully stark melodies backed by his own orchestrations, Don Ellis playing big band party funk in odd meters and Wendy Carlos' neo-classical composition played entirely on the Moog.

The only song that doesn't measure up on "The Progressives" is "Haida" by Paul Horn. It sounds like he is in a cove full of Dolphins and playing new age flute melodies while the Dolphins squeak and squawk and plead with him to leave them alone.

MARK WINGFIELD Tales From The Dreaming City

Album · 2018 · Fusion
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kev rowland
Wingfield’s newest album, ‘Tales From The Dreaming City’, in many ways follows straight on from his previous solo album, 2015’s ‘Proof Of Light’. In between the two he had worked on other releases, but here he is back again with bassist Yaron Stavis and drummer Asaf Sirkis, as well as special guest synth performer Domonique Vantomme who features on three of the songs. Although it is directly related in many ways to ‘Proof’, here it is just more, in every way. The warmth of the bass and staccato of the drums contrasts with the fluidity of the guitar, as Wingfield continues to push sonic boundaries in what is expected from the instrument, as well as showing that when the occasion is right he can shred with the best of them.

While Holdsworth and Metheny are still major influences, added to that can be Steve Hillage, Adrian Belew and Steve Vai, all blending together in a style that is very much his own. This is music that is pushing the boundaries of what one expects from fusion, at times moving more into Avant and RIO territory, but always returning back. But although Wingfield is often the lead melodic voice, it is the interplay with all the others that makes this album what it is, with everyone taking centre stage when the time is right. This is music that captivates the listener and takes them on a journey, leaving them breathless when reality once again kicks in. These guys continue to weave their magic spell, and some segments are so beautiful the listener is filled with emotion. As with everything I have ever heard from this incredible guitarist, this is definitely worth hearing.

MARK WINGFIELD Proof of Light

Album · 2016 · Fusion
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kev rowland
Over the years, Wingfield has built up a considerable reputation for being one of the most interesting and dynamic fusion guitarists around, and this 2015 release finds him yet again exploring the outer reaches of what sounds can be achieved on an electric guitar. That he has been influenced by Holdsworth is never in doubt, while the fluidity of Metheny is very much in play, along with some sounds more normally connected with Reuter. In fact, the other two people involved in this 2015 release are bassist Yaron Stavis and drummer Asaf Sirkis, and the three of them would soon join together with Markus Reuter to release the wonderful ‘The Stone House’.

Recorded in just two days, this is music that can only be created when everyone is totally confident in their own ability, and in each other’s, so that the music just flows like a river. All three at times appear to be following totally different musical paths, yet somehow it all connects together in manner that is full of space and light. All three are listening to the input of the others, while also creating something that is vibrant and dynamic. Sometimes the ears become distracted by the way that Stavis is creating his own melody, or Sirkis is driving though in a totally different manner, and focusses on them as the lead instrument before coming back to Wingfield. There are complete sections where he allows the others to take the lead and he hardly pays at all, waiting the right moment to come back in. The guitar stylings are quite unlike what many other musicians are producing, and the result is a distinctive sound that is refreshing, beguiling, innovative and entrancing, all at the same time.

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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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