Post-Fusion Contemporary

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Post-Fusion Contemporary is a broad umbrella genre that contains several recent trends in jazz. One important branch of Contemporary Jazz (which first appeared in the mid 1970s) is rooted in Northern Europe and is often associated with the ECM label. This is a somber style of jazz often played in straight (non-swing) rhythm with elements of regional folk music and early 20th century classical music. This style is sometimes referred to as ‘chamber jazz’. Some early practitioners include Keith Jarret and Jan Garbarek. Although originally rooted in Europe, today this style is played and enjoyed around the world.

Another branch of the Contemporary sound started in the late 70s when artists such as Jeff Lorber and Pat Methany began to play in a style that mixed fusion with elements of smooth jazz and post bop. This was a somewhat light and radio friendly style of jazz, and a very dominant force until acoustic post/hard bop made a comeback.

Although most early forms of Contemporary Jazz were of a light and borderline easy listening nature, today’s Contemporary artists are often playing in a more energetic and rhythmic style influenced by indie rock, hip-hop, RnB, drumnbass, world beat and fusion. Leading the way in the new sound is the modern jazz piano trio. Heavily influenced by the popular trio, e.s.t., most of these groups consist of a trap set, acoustic bass and a very powerful virtuoso piano player.

Today’s Contemporary genre often borders on Classic Fusion, but there are differences. The rock influence in fusion comes from extravagant jam band artists like Jimi Hendrix, while the Contemporary artist draws from moody and dronish indie rock bands like Radiohead and REM. Fusion tends to have a basis in Afro-Latin or funk rhythms, while Contemporary Jazz tends to have straighter rhythms taken from pop and art rock.

Generally speaking, the difference between Contemporary and Post Bop is that Post Bop usually swings, while Contemporary often does not, although the new Contemporary piano trios continue to blur lines by occasionally playing in a post bop swing style too. Harmonically speaking, Post Bop usually uses the extended harmonies of jazz (9th chords, 11ths etc), while Contemporary may mix jazz harmonies with the simpler triadic harmonies of pop or classical.

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post-fusion contemporary Music Reviews

SIMON SAMMUT Crossing - A Visual and Music Experience

Album · 2017 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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Carmel
As humans, we have been enamored with acts of crossing, be it literally of figuratively, since the beginning of time. There is always a point where a person crosses into something, into a field or mindset of adventure, leaving the known limits of the world of point “A” and venturing into an unknown and dangerous realm or mindset where the rules and limits are unknown to get to point “B.” Bassist and composer Simon Sammut uses the crossing as a point of inspiration, to bring meaning to the act through music. Using specific events in history and mythology, Sammut focuses his musical mind by using visual art by Anthony Catania that depicts the events related to crossing, to form the mechanics of his compositions. His new project is entitled, Crossing and it marks the combining of music and visual art, forming beauty and color. Both music and paintings expressing emotions and ideas, and in this project work together to create something truly striking and unique.

Sammut’s artistic pallet is vast on both the upright and electric bass. On the electric bass especially, his use of chords possesses a color pallet that far exceeds the usual spectrum of a bassist. He cites Jaco Pastorius as an influence, and like Jaco, Sammut’s ability to convey complex harmonies using chordal movement on the bass, is dynamic and adds a great deal to the music. Sammut additionally uses orchestral colors of voice, guitar, melodica, keyboards, percussion, electronics, brass and woodwinds. “The Tin Soldier’s Last Dance” displays this ability perfectly. Sammut’s chordal work on the bass is wonderful. The tune has a strong melody and a form that keeps the music marching forward.

On “Promethean Man,” Sammut’s inspiration is that we are not alone in our journey, but ultimately guided by a higher intelligence that is involved in our Crossing and change, the process brought to us through the world. Sammut’s upper register melody on the bass starts the melodic journey. Developing into programmed drums with keyboard swells and backing, Sammut continues to take the lead melodic role. Sammut’s bass solo is tuneful, with lines the build a story and again he uses chords in his solo in a inimitable way.

Sammut’s compositions are focused and provide a sonic delight for Crossing, taking the listener on a journey into the magical world music. The bassist’s impressionistic soundscapes contribute to the album’s success as well. Crossing is a consistently musical and entertaining listen from beginning to end. Highly Recommended, and an enlightened melding of art and sound.

ART LANDE Skylight

Album · 1981 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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Steve Wyzard
ECM PASTORALISM

Until recent times, this was a very hard album to locate, especially in the USA - in fact, to this day, I've never seen an LP copy. Now that it's more readily available, listeners will be greatly rewarded by this one-off trio featuring Paul McCandless (Oregon) on woodwinds, Dave Samuels (Spyro Gyra/Double Image) on vibraphone and marimba, and Art Lande (Jan Garbarek/Gary Peacock/Rubisa Patrol) on piano and percussion. While no one player receives top billing, it is McCandless who dominates this material, pushing his many instruments to the absolute limit. And when I say "pastoralism", don't think "quiet and sleepy", rather "wide open spaces" or "resonant pictorial landscapes" more accurately describe the atmospheres contained within.

McCandless alternates his instruments on each track to create a wide variety of tones and timbres. The opening title track is a showpiece for soprano sax, with Lande providing Chick Corea-ish background colors. The hypnotic "Dance of the Silver Skeezix" is a quirky scherzo, with McCandless hitting some very shrill high notes on the oboe and Samuels creating kaleidoscopic textures on the marimba. "Duck in a Colorful Blanket (For Here)" is the obligatory free improv with McCandless on bass clarinet and Lande on cymbals. "Chillum" is a slow, drifting impressionistic piece for soprano sax, while the meandering "Moist Windows/Lawn Party" includes an English horn solo. The experimental "Ente (To Go)" is a duet for percussion and wood flute, and the closing "Willow" begins with piercing soprano sax only to resolve into something much dreamier.

As with many ECM recordings, some will say the music is "too classical" to be jazz, and "too jazzy" to be classical. My best recommendation would be if you enjoy the music of Lande, Samuels, and McCandless in other contexts, you should find much to appreciate here. And while it would be a stretch to consider Skylight an all-time classic, it remains to this day a thought-provoking exercise in musical pastoralism. Had it been more widely released, it might have found itself on many "Album of the Year, 1981" lists.

ALBARE The Road Ahead

Album · 2013 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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kev rowland
Albert Dadon was born in Morocco and grew up in Israel and France before moving to Melbourne, Australia in 1983 at the age of 27. As well as performing as Albare, he founded the Australian Jazz Awards in 2003, and five years later received the Order of Australia for services to the arts. This 2013 album found Albare providing guitar and synth guitar, and he was joined by Phil Turcio (piano), Yunior Terry (bass) and Pablo Bencid (drums). Allan Harris guests on vocals on one number, “Overjoyed”, but the rest is instrumental, and Albare’s synth guitar sometimes provides the sound of a wailing trombone that is so in keeping with the rest of the jazz that is on show.

His own sound is that of a laid-back Carlos Santana, but here grooving very much in a jazz vein, bringing in hints of blues and his own Morroccan roots while also encompassing other forms and making it all very complete and polished indeed. According to Albare himself, “ “The Road Ahead” is a prayer for what lies ahead of us.. the scales used are borrowed from the Jewish Sephardic Moroccan tradition, and we also borrow from the blues tradition, so this makes an interesting fusion and hopefully it translates into an equally interesting linstening”. That is something of an understatement.

These guys have the understanding of each other that only comes with long hours spent on the road. There is a period during “The Gift” where Pablo is going absolutely mad on the kit, and the others just play the odd notes or chords here and there, and it comes together in a completeness and understanding that few artists ever achieve. This is a mature work that oozes class, by musicians who understand that note density is never the answer, and that fluidity and understanding of the musical journet is what really matters. This is a wonderful album, highly recommended, www.albaremusic.com

EBERHARD WEBER Little Movements

Album · 1980 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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Steve Wyzard
NOT BAD...JUST NOT MUCH

When looking through the Eberhard Weber discography, let it be said here that Little Movements (1980) is for completists only. It's certainly not a bad album, but Weber has set such a high standard that this one only just barely passes muster.

For the uninitiated, this is the third album by the Colours group, with Weber on bass, Charlie Mariano on soprano sax and flute, Rainer Bruninghaus on keyboards, and John Marshall on drums/percussion. "Bali" and "A Dark Spell" are both dynamic masterpieces: the group interplay is especially strong, and these two would be among the best recordings they ever made. "The Last Stage of a Long Journey" and "Little Movements" are a bit more problematic: experimental, phlegmatic mood pieces that don't quite work. "'No Trees?' He Said" is pleasant in a Pat Methenyish way. There are distinguished performances throughout, and if you own everything else Weber has ever done, you'll find this one coming off the shelf every now and again. Still, Little Movements absolutely pales in comparison to the previous two group albums, Yellow Fields (1976, with Jon Christensen on drums) and Silent Feet (1978). Both are flawless, timeless classics from beginning to end, and contain everything that made this such an outstanding ensemble.

After Little Movements, Weber would continue to make phenomenal albums with seemingly casual effort (more masterpieces: 1982's Later that Evening, and 1993's Pendulum) and also became a part of Jan Garbarek's group. John Marshall would go on to play with Arild Andersen and John Surman, while Charlie Mariano and Rainer Bruninghaus (outstanding players both) would be heard from a lot less often. There's definitely a feeling of finality on this album, as if the group realized their best days were behind them. Where, if anywhere, could they have gone from here? At the very least, the album cover, by Weber's wife Maja, is especially cute.

RALPH TOWNER Chiaroscuro (with Paolo Fresu)

Album · 2009 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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Steve Wyzard
INCOMPARABLE LIGHT AND SHADE

With the passage of time, the trumpet has become increasingly important to ECM Records. Following in the footsteps of Tomasz Stanko and Enrico Rava, we are here introduced to Paolo Fresu, who has led many ensembles and recorded many albums (available as imports) in his native Italy. For his first widely distributed release in he western hemisphere, he is paired with long-time ECM recording artist/guitar virtuoso Ralph Towner. The two met at a festival in Italy, and decided to perform and record together as a duo.

So when was the last time you heard a guitar/trumpet duet? This album works brilliantly on every level despite taking a risk with an unusual pairing. While this is mostly reflective, introspective, meditative music, there is also way too much happening with both performers for it to remain placidly in the background. Towner, who has played on many of ECM's greatest albums (Matchbook, Solstice, Solo Concert, et al), contributes fleet-fingered picking on "Punta Giara", double-tracks a baritone guitar on "Sacred Place" and "Doubled Up", and recaptures throughout the classical/jazz/world/folk sound he has given us since the early 1970s. Fresu plays both trumpet and flugelhorn, and his tone has just enough sharp edges (especially on the title track) to avoid being dismissed as a smooth impressionist. He performs a muted tribute to Miles Davis on "Blue in Green", which receives a very different arrangement from Towner's cover with Gary Burton on 1986's Slide Show album. Chiaroscuro closes with two brief but haunting improv pieces, "Two Miniatures" and "Postlude".

It all sounds "very ECM", and one wonders why this instrumental pairing hasn't been attempted before (or if it has, why so rarely). At 46:43, the idea is not overworked and never drifts into aimless repetitiveness. Outstanding recording and booklet graphics, as always, are a given with ECM. Highly recommended for late-night listening, and for those looking for something different.

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