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

MARCIN WASILEWSKI TRIO Spark Of Life (with Joakim Milder)

Album · 2014 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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Matt
The Marcin Wasilewski Trio first came to International recognition in 2002 with the release of Tomasz Stanko’s “Soul Of Things” . They backed Tomasz Stanko on 13 variations of his composition which is no mean feat due to the fact of working just this one tune for the entire album. One could be excused for thinking that things could get a little dull and boring with only working the one piece but not so as every variation was performed beautifully and all had a different perspective. I was not the only Jazz fan that was impressed with the album which garnered impressive reviews and comments. They went on to do the next two albums with Tomasz Stanko being “Suspended Night” and Lontana” and all were recorded on the ECM Jazz label. Between the release of these two albums they released their debut on ECM as their own band simply named “Trio” in 2005 and once again all were highly impressed. After the release of “Trio” although the band treat all equal they decided to use the name, Marcin Wasilewski Trio as the pianist is usually referred to when naming Jazz trios. Albeit, as well Marcin does write the most of their material. Three albums have been recorded since by the band with just the trio present but this time around for the fourth they have decided to have Joakim Milder on tenor saxophone as an addition. Joakim Milder has also played with Tomaz Stanko being included in the line up for “Litania-The Music Of Krzysztof Komeda” which came out back in 1997. Joakim though like all these other musicians mentioned is not Polish but Swedish. Connections between these musicians are everywhere as Tomasz being a friend of the great Krzysztof Komeda ( Rosemary’s Baby Soundtrack plus loads more) has always had a special connection to this man’s music as Marcin’s Trio do, which is how Tomasz Stanko came across them in his native Poland and over a few years prior to their International debut they had been recording albums back in Poland and supporting him on various projects.

The trio still contain the same personnel and comprise Marcin Wasilewski , piano, Slawomir Kurkiewicz , double bass player and Michal Miskiewicz, drums for their latest release “Spark Of Life”. Space, time, silence with a touch of minimalism seem to best describe their approach with primarily a gentle laid back approach and every note and chord resounding with a beautiful contemplative clarity. “Austin “ with just the trio present opens the album with Marcin playing this ballad to perfection and The Rhythm section are spot on with the bass from Slawomir and brush work from Michal providing a simply low played beautiful support. You could never accuse Marcin of overplaying as every note that he plays, a simply gorgeous clarity is coming through. Joakim Milder comes in with his tenor for “Sudovian Dance” and similar to Marcin he has that space approach to his technique on tenor saxophone with a slight gradual build up throughout his input into what is another laid back number. The title “Spark Of Life” is given two separate takes on the album being track three and the last with a different approach for each but both are at that contemplative tempo with once again another absolutely beautifully played composition. We also have “Sleep Safe And Warm” the usual Komeda addition and it is another of the albums highlights played to perfection with an outstanding take of the tune containing a wonderful bass solo and piano input from Marcin and the band picks up a little tempo here for this one. Police’s “Message In A Bottle” is also included but for me it is the Marcin Wasilewski compositions including “Three Reflections” with the one Komeda and Herbie Hancock’s “Actual Proof” that are the album’s highlights. There are eleven tracks contained within the album but all but two seem to be heading to a sameness due to the same slow tempo approach. The albums length is just under 74 minutes which I find is for myself is a little too long and a good description maybe a Filet Mignon is just right for a dinner but to have the whole Chateaubriand given to one is just too much.

Superb musicianship from a superb band and saxophonist but just because on cds you can pile more content and it is great to think that bands feel they want to give everybody their money’s worth it sometimes gets a little too much.The album is superbly played and with that usual ECM production,sounds even a little more exquisite and if it had ran no more than 50 minutes I would be hitting repeat on the player but as it is 74, I'm kinda glad it is over.

DEWA BUDJANA Joged Kahyangan

Album · 2013 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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progshine
Really nice and smoothy album by Indonesian guitar player Dewa Budjana! I got used to have Moonjune Records albums in a Jazz Fusion line and this kind of music really don't hold any water for me as I prefer something that was built and something with melody.

For my surprise Joged Kahyangan (2013) is one of this records! Dewa instead of trying to go on full Free Jazz do what you want wrote some really pretty melodies in a more traditional Jazz style, there's even a Vocal Jazz track on the album (As You Leave My Nest) with singer Janis Siegel.

This is the kind of album that is indeed a joy to listen to and you can enjoy it even while reading, but that doesn't make it a 'background music' album as Dewa is a great guitar player and the line up on the album is amazing.

Recommended! Please Moonjune, more of this kind of releases!

JOSHUA REDMAN Walking Shadows

Album · 2013 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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js
Josh Redman’s music has become eclectic enough over the years that I really don’t know what to expect when I pick up one of his CDs. Listening to “Walking Shadows’ for the first time I noticed the saxophone-with-strings sound and figured this was Redman’s ‘easy listening’ album and didn’t think much of it more than that. Although ‘Shadows’ could pass as an easy listening album, I’m glad I gave this album some more listens because it is so much more than mere pleasant background music. In many ways ‘Shadows’ recalls efforts from the 50s to 70s when artists such as Don Sebesky and Gil Evans would combine relaxed jazz with ambitious 3rd stream scores that were presented in an exotic easy listening environment. Les Baxter and Don Ellis also created music along these lines, and you could also include many works by the Ellington-Strayhorn team. In fact, its no big surprise that ’Shadows’ contains an excellent modernized and moody arrangement of Strayhorn’s “Lush Life”.

The music on here is a mix of modern pop tunes, some originals, a couple standards and even a number by JS Bach. Despite the disparate background of the tunes, almost everything on here flows together and is well blended through the creative arrangements. The strings are actually on only half of the tracks, but their comings and goings are so subtle that you don’t notice a huge difference between tracks with or without the orchestra. The rest of the band is made up of Brad Mehldau on piano and vibes, Larry Grenadier on acoustic bass and Brian Blade on drums. Having Brad on board is a nice touch as this sort of high brow dreamy art pop is right down his alley. He not only provides his unique piano fills, but also some arrangements and an original piece too.

Top tune honors goes to an excellent arrangement of Wayne Shorter’s “Infant Eyes”, followed closely by “Lush Life” and “Easy Living”. All of the original tunes are good, with Mehldau’s modern “Last Glimpse of Gotham” sounding like a good fit for a current concert hall program. The only clunker on here is the Beatles wore out “Let it Be”. The simple plaintive melody is no match for the sophistication of the other tunes, and although Redman does his best to change up the melody and make it fit, it still sticks out like a sore thumb. There are a couple of other tracks that aren’t quite up to the quality of this CD’s best numbers.

Redman came very close to creating a classic here, with a little editing, a slightly shorter but better album exists within “Walking Shadows”. On another note, the cover photography is very clever and it fits the music exactly.

DEWA BUDJANA Joged Kahyangan

Album · 2013 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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kev rowland
This is Dewa’s sixth solo album to date, and while he may well be a bona fide pop star in his home country with his band Gigi selling millions of records, he is still relatively unknown outside of his native Indonesia. With this, his second album for the international label Moonjune, surely that will soon change. The album title translates to “Dances of Heaven”, and if you are at all interested in jazz fusion that is the place to which you will be transported when listening to this. On this album he has been joined by Larry Goldings (organ, piano), Bob Mintzer (tenor and soprano sax, clarinet, bass clarinet), Jimmy Johnson (bass) and Peter Erskine (drums) as well as singer Janis Siegel guesting on the one number with vocals.

The musicians didn’t see Budjana’s charts until the day of the recording, and the first take was the only rehearsal they had with the second or third take ending up on the album. Recorded in just a single day, this is pretty much a full live recording, which makes it even more incredible. Dewa has strong understanding of the use of space and harmony, as well as dischord, and combines all the elements to make an album that takes the listener by the hand as opposed to bashing them over the head. There are whole passages where Dewa is notable by his absence, letting the rest of the guys take his music on a journey and he joins in with wonderfully fluid Metheny/McLaughlin style at just the right moment. It is a wonderfully restful album, one where time and space disappears and is replaced instead by a world filled with harmony, delicacy, and restrained power. Every piece is a classic in it’s own right, while the restraint of everyone involved in the vocal “As You Leave My Nest” is superb.

The digipak opens up to provide three pages of notes, written by John Kelman, which definitely add to the overall experience. This is an essential album to anyone who enjoys wonderful music, whatever the genre. www.moonjune.com

DEWA BUDJANA Joged Kahyangan

Album · 2013 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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js
Although Dewa Budjana has been putting out records in Indonesia since 1997, he did not receive much western exposure until 2011 when he released “Dawai in Paradise” on the MoonJune label. “Paradise” was a particularly ambitious recording for Budjana that created colorful cinematic soundscapes with a pan-Asian fusion backdrop. In 2013 Dewa has brought us his follow up recording, “Joged Kanyangan” , somewhat similar to its predecessor, but different too. Its probably no accident that Budjana has recorded his new CD with an all-star cast of western musicians (Larry Goldings, Bob Mintzer etc) because the Indonesian, Indian and other Asian influences that have always been Budjana’s trademark sound are still present, but they are much more subdued now. In fact, much of “Kahyangan” could easily play on contemporary jazz radio in the states and other western markets as well. Whether this is bad or good is a matter of personal taste, but you can’t blame Dewa for wanting to try different things and work with a new set of influences. No doubt, Goldings, Mintzer, Pete Erskine and the others on here are tops in their field.

The music on “Kahyangan” is more laid back and relaxed than the music on “Paradise”, the structures are less ambitious and there are fewer outbursts of energetic electric fusion. Although “Kahyangan” is not what you would call a pop-jazz album, some songs lean towards a “smooth” sound as Budjana is a master of the expressive nylon string playing that goes with that genre. Fans of Budjana’s aggressive electric shredding will find some good moments on “Dang Hyang Story” and “Majik Blue”. Larry Goldings gets to stretch out on the B3 on the jazzy “Erskoman” and Bob Mintzer contributes fine solos throughout. Budjana is a master of melodic development and his finest melody on here is the bitter sweet vocal number, “As You Leave My Nest”, about a woman who’s son is about to leave home and move on. Even better than the original is a instrumental reprise of the same melody on the album closer, “Borra’s Ballad”. Dewa’s expressive nylon string guitar playing on this one is an album highlight.

“Joged Kahyangan” is a good album and should make Dewa Budjana’s fans happy, but for the curious looking for a first buy, the preceding “Dawai in Paradise” is the stronger album.

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