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.

post-fusion contemporary top albums

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EBERHARD WEBER Pendulum Album Cover Pendulum
EBERHARD WEBER
4.83 | 6 ratings
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JOHN ABERCROMBIE Current Events Album Cover Current Events
JOHN ABERCROMBIE
4.88 | 4 ratings
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JOHN SURMAN Saltash Bells Album Cover Saltash Bells
JOHN SURMAN
5.00 | 3 ratings
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KEITH JARRETT Sleeper Album Cover Sleeper
KEITH JARRETT
4.64 | 7 ratings
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KEITH JARRETT Paris Concert Album Cover Paris Concert
KEITH JARRETT
4.50 | 14 ratings
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TOMASZ STAŃKO Soul Of Things Album Cover Soul Of Things
TOMASZ STAŃKO
4.88 | 3 ratings
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KETIL BJØRNSTAD The Sea Album Cover The Sea
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JAN GARBAREK It's OK To Listen To The Grey Voice Album Cover It's OK To Listen To The Grey Voice
JAN GARBAREK
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KEITH JARRETT The Köln Concert Album Cover The Köln Concert
KEITH JARRETT
4.34 | 30 ratings
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KEITH JARRETT Rio Album Cover Rio
KEITH JARRETT
4.50 | 6 ratings
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RALPH TOWNER Matchbook (with Gary Burton) Album Cover Matchbook (with Gary Burton)
RALPH TOWNER
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MIROSLAV VITOUS Journey's End Album Cover Journey's End
MIROSLAV VITOUS
4.67 | 3 ratings
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post-fusion contemporary Music Reviews

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.

TORD GUSTAVSEN Extended Circle

Album · 2014 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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Amilisom
Extended Circle was my introduction to the Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen and his quartet.

As an ECM release, this album lives up to its name. It is spacious, contemplative, and has a slight trace of third-stream classical romanticism. The spacious quality is most present in "Entrance", a free track where the tenor sax quietly plays notes into the dark silence, joined occasionally with high and quiet chords in the piano.

Because I was given this album as a gift, I was disappointed to find a lack of virtuosity. Rarely throughout the album does anybody play a compelling lick that I would want to transcribe and work into my own playing. However, the value in this album comes not from the licks, but from the group as a whole. The quartet does a fantastic job communicating with each other. Everybody in the group contributes perfectly to what each track is expressing. For example, the drummer and bassist are always unified in establishing the light, delicate groove in a way that could be easily messed up by other rhythm sections. Nobody ever gets in the way of any of the others, either.

In spite of its excellent execution, I would personally say this falls within the 3-3.5 star range. It's a good one, but certainly not a masterpiece.

BILL FRISELL When You Wish Upon a Star

Album · 2016 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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js
It seems that over the years Bill Frisell has drifted further from the world of new jazz and fusion, and more into a one man genre of his own making, something that might best be called “Nostalgic Americana”. In this new ‘genre’, Frisell has positioned himself alongside such classic ‘twangy’ guitarists like Tommy Tedesco, Duane Eddy and Chet Atkins. So it is more or less within this style that Frisell presents his new CD, “When You Wish Upon a Star”, a collection of music from classic movies and TV shows, a trip down memory lane so to speak.

The music on here is a real mixed bag, tracks from “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Psycho”, “Once Upon a Time in the West”, “The Godfather” and “The Bad and the Beautiful” present sophisticated arrangements that Frisell’s small ensemble handles with sensitivity and modern creativity. Despite the small group, Bill’s cohorts do a great job with their orchestrations and manage to sound much fuller than five people. Special mention should go to the subtle wordless vocals of Petra Haden. On the negative side, there are other cuts that might seem trite or downright corny, for instance; “Bonanza”, "Moon River", “Happy Trails”, and a few others. After a while it becomes obvious that the real make or break for this CD is how attached one might be to movie themes and that whole attractive nostalgia that tends to surround classic movie culture. In short, those who might want to make a big bowl of popcorn and grab a box of Kleenexes for the inevitable misty eyes will find a lot to like here, “When You Wish Upon a Star” presents the perfect atmosphere for such rememberances, but if you are looking for some new jazz, you best mosy along pardner.

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Artists with Post-Fusion Contemporary release(s)

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