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
4.67 | 115 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 | 12 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Bitches Brew Album Cover Bitches Brew
MILES DAVIS
4.58 | 104 ratings
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MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA The Inner Mounting Flame Album Cover The Inner Mounting Flame
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA
4.57 | 81 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK Crossings Album Cover Crossings
HERBIE HANCOCK
4.56 | 62 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Dark Magus: Live at Carnegie Hall Album Cover Dark Magus: Live at Carnegie Hall
MILES DAVIS
4.60 | 31 ratings
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MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Birds of Fire Album Cover Birds of Fire
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA
4.50 | 82 ratings
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EDDIE HENDERSON Realization Album Cover Realization
EDDIE HENDERSON
4.57 | 17 ratings
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CHRIS POTTER Circuits Album Cover Circuits
CHRIS POTTER
4.92 | 4 ratings
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PAT METHENY Pat Metheny Group : The Way Up Album Cover Pat Metheny Group : The Way Up
PAT METHENY
4.46 | 30 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Get Up With It Album Cover Get Up With It
MILES DAVIS
4.45 | 39 ratings
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LES MCCANN Invitation to Openness Album Cover Invitation to Openness
LES MCCANN
4.58 | 11 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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JUKKA HAURU Jukka Hauru / Nono Söderberg ‎: Pop Liisa 05

Split · 2016 · Fusion
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Matti P
For the fusion-minded listeners, this is an interesting item in the Pop Liisa series (or Jazz Liisa, which would have been equally suitable for these acts), ie. the seventies' live performances recorded in the Liisankatu Studios, Helsinki, originally broadcast on the Finnish radio and finally released by Svart Records in the 2010's. The two series are almost like a "who's who" of the Finnish prog and jazz/fusion scenes of the seventies.

Although it was naturally more common to have one band per show, some of the live dates featured two artists, and this was the case in December 15th, 1976. Guitarist and composer JUKKA HAURU (b. 1950) released two albums, Information (1972) and Episode (1975). Especially the debut's instrumental music has been compared to the likes of Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report and Frank Zappa.

This Liisankatu gig however contains a single 17-minute epic piece which was never recorded for a studio album, 'Günther Angst, Parts 1-6'. The sextet consists of Hauru (electric guitar), Juhani Poutanen (violin), Eero Ojanen (piano), Tapani Tamminen (double bass), Esko Rosnell (drums) and Ari Valtonen (percussion). The violinist Poutanen was Hauru's primary collaborator on Information, and his playing is in a big role here, too. Also other instruments get solistic spots in this complex piece wandering in the outskirts of free jazz. Round the sixth minute there's a beautiful calmer section first starring piano and double bass, then evolving into a delicate duet for violin and double bass played with a bow, joined later by a gentle guitar and light percussion, before shifting into a more fiery movement. Progheads may get some associations of the Larks-era King Crimson, in addition to Mahavishnu Orchestra.

As another fusion guitarist, Arto "NONO" SÖDERBERG (b. 1945) was a natural pairing for Jukka Hauru. The guitarist and composer is accompanied by the keyboard maestro Esa Kotilainen (who at the time had played in Wigwam), saxophonist Reijo Ylinen, plus bass, drums and percussion. Söderberg's had a long and many-sided career since the sixties but he released his debut solo album "Nono" no sooner than in 1976. Both pieces heard in this gig are taken from that instrumental pop-jazz/fusion album.

The lively and funky 'Tide' gives a refreshing contrast to the more demanding and ambiguous stuff of Hauru's sextet. Very nice groove in this 8-minute piece, almost twice as long as the album version. 'Seagull' is a calmer piece with laid-back soaring melodies reminiscent of CAMEL and SANTANA. Kotilainen's synth solo is cool, and the soprano saxophone takes its place harmonically. The congas of Esa Roswall sound very nice too.

I personally prefer the Söderberg set. On the CD this Pop Liisa 05 is combined with Pop Liisa 06: Finnforest and Elonkorjuu (1977).

MAKE LIEVONEN Make Lievonen

Album · 1977 · Fusion
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Matti P
The eponymous album by Finnish bassist Make Lievonen is among the finest fusion works in Finland of that time. His road to composing and recording an album under his own name had been a long and winding one. In several short-lived line-ups Lievonen played with just about every household name of the Finnish prog and fusion scene, naturally including the ones appearing on this album and many others such as Jukka Tolonen, Jukka Gustavson and Seppo "Baron" Paakkunainen.

The idea for a solo album had been around since the early 70's, but in the spring of 1977 he finally made Atte Blom of Love Records to admit the time was right. The electric fusion was at the height of its popularity in Finland. Some of the album's material had existed for some years and had been performed in gigs. The recordings were done in four days, and most of the tracks took just one take.

The album starts joyously with the relatively simple and synth oriented 'Rain Dance' which is in a slight contrast to the rest of the material. Also other, more complex compositions such as 'Sea Horse' offer a genuinely happy feeling. The saddest of emotions are to be felt on 'March for the Lonely Riders', highlighting the soprano sax of Pöyry. In 'Monster Rally' Hasse Walli and Juha Björninen take turns playing short guitar solos. 'Tickets Please' is a tiny, groovy tune of electric funk.

'ETYK' refers to the 1975 Summit conference in Helsinki, where 35 national leaders signed a sheaf of papers. The hectic "going nowhere" atmosphere on the 8-minute composition quite perfectly sums up the whole thing. Although the world peace was a big issue at the time, the track title 'Peace Street Two' is simply a translation of the address Lievonen and Pöyry shared as room mates.

The closing track 'Farewell' features flute playing by both Pöyry and Pentti Lahti, who mostly plays bass clarinet on the album. "I have always liked the sound of that instrument", Lievonen said in a magazine interview. "Many people have told me there's not enough bass on the album. Well, I didn't want to make an album in which I'd play solos on bass and others would merely play themes. My main interest was to make beautiful pieces." And that's what he certainly did.

(Edited from my re-relase liner notes for Svart Records, 2015.)

SEED ENSEMBLE Driftglass

Album · 2019 · Fusion
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snobb
England-born composer, band leader and sax player Cassie Kinoshi is on the top now writing music for orchestras, theater, dance and visual-arts. Just a few weeks ago she released the second album of her popular SEED band, recorded mostly live with an orchestra. Still, everything started five years ago, with the debut release of Cassie Kinoshi's initial project, the ten-piece SEED Ensemble's "Driftglass".

"Driftglass" combines some lesser known London scene artists and already popular ones (such as Ezra Collective keyboardist Joe Armon-Jones and Sons of Kemet's tuba player Theon Cross among others). Cassie's band released an excellent soundtrack of the time - richly orchestrated Afro-Caribbean based spiritual jazz album with sweetly-sour tunes, knotty danceable rhythms and in general a relaxed and exhilarating feel.

Some songs contain spoken word poetry or vocals, others are just moody instrumentals, but they all vary enough in mood and arrangements making the whole album versatile and non-monotonous at all. Unrepentant atmosphere of early 70s r'n'b and fusion organically mixes with the more contemporary Caribbean rhythms and tunes of nowadays London. It is a great start. Not really a prolific recording artist, Cassie Kinoshi still has more than enough to say.

ATTE AHO Atte Aho

Album · 2022 · Fusion
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Matti P
Guitarist ATTE AHO from Helsinki, Finland, was 27 years old at the time of releasing his eponymous debut album. He has played in several combos, not only in jazz but also in pop, e.g. vocalist Anna Abreu's group. With this solo album he proves to be a gifted composer in addition to being a great musician. His electric guitar is accompanied by Kasperi Kallio's keyboards, Mikko Kuorikoski's bass and Johannes Pakkala's drums. The all-instrumental album also features some guest performances, even some strings. Upon my very first impression I'm really charmed by the lush, bright, rich and elegant soundscape.

As a guitarist Aho recalls big names such as Jeff Beck, Carlos Santana and perhaps slightly David Gilmour -- not that he'd imitate anyone. We're dealing with rock oriented fusion with a fairly melodic and accessible approach, by which I definitely don't imply this music to be simple or diluted. The vibrant jazz groove is there. Atte Aho's many-sided background as a musician in the popular field surely shows here in a good way, the same way as with Jeff Beck.

There are eight tracks on this 50-minute album. The track lengths are between 4:49 and 7:35. 'Labyrinth' is an excellent opener and a good example of what's on offer. The guitar has the lead role but the keybaords and the rhythm section are not left in the background. Everyone plays excellently. The dynamic sound is juicy, nuanced and enjoyably airy instead of being stuffy in the least. On 'Ulan Bator' the spotlight is momentarily on the electric piano.

Already on the third composition 'Wave' the listener is guaranteed that there's also a more emotional and sensitive level to the music. 'Guidance' is a beautiful, slow and mellow piece. The more energetic side is showcased on the aptly titled 'Elastic Energy', and even it maintains a good balance without becoming too hectic. The sound is at times very big and bold but never crosses the line of being overblown and self-indulgent.

I'm very pleased that I accidentally found this artist and album. without a doubt this is among the finest jazz/fusion albums of recent years that I've listened to. A pure delight to ears, mind and heart. Let's leave a half star's growing space for future releases.

LARRY CORYELL Barefoot Boy

Album · 1971 · Fusion
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js
“Barefoot Boy” is one of Larry Coryell’s earliest albums and features the rugged fusion style that was popular in the early 70s. The early days of fusion were somewhat exciting with musicians combining the freedom of Coltrane with the sonic effects of Hendrix into a new style of music that paid the bills a little better than post bop. Larry was one of the major leaders in this new style and you can certainly hear his influence on John McLaughlin, Pat Martino, Bill Connor and a host of others. Like a lot of fusion from this time period, “Barefoot Boy” is really just a jam session. There is very little structure at work here, but the immense talent of the musicians involved make it a worthwhile listen for the fusion fan.

The album opens with Gabor Szabo’s “Gypsy Queen”, which most people know from the Santana “Abraxas” album. The Coryell version is barely recognizable as the musicians waste no time getting straight into the solos. Saxophonist Steve Marcus channels Coltrane’s soprano sax style with a million notes sheets of sound. Larry follows with Sonny Sharrock styled noise onslaughts followed by a very Hendrix inspired rock solo. Hendrix’s sound mixer, Eddie Kramer, is on hand and he gives Larry’s solo all the wild panning effects that Eddie used on “Electric Ladyland”. Side two closes out with the funky RnB of “The Great Escape” which has Steve Marcus doing a much more soulful solo on tenor saxophone. The driving guitar riff on this one is one of the more focused points on this record.

Side two is given entirely to “Call to the Higher Consciousness”, which starts off as a Coltrane style modal post bop jam, but the riffing soon morphs into a somewhat tired sounding Grateful Dead cliché. This track lacks rhythmic excitement as there is little to back up the increasingly indulgent solos. Marcus does his Coltrane soprano thing again and ace drummer Roy Haynes takes a ride as well. Since this is the great Haynes, this is a very musical solo and not just your typical rock n roll display of thunder and power. Pianist Michael Mandel tries to interject a little jazz into this one, but overall this number just sort of drags along.

For the jazz fan looking for some challenging in depth listening, “Barefoot Boy” isn’t exactly “Out to Lunch”, or “Giant Steps”, but for those who enjoy the kitsch sounds of early 70s psychedelic fusion, Coryell and his cohorts deliver the goods.

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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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