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, 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)

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MILES DAVIS In a Silent Way Album Cover In a Silent Way
MILES DAVIS
4.58 | 100 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Bitches Brew Album Cover Bitches Brew
MILES DAVIS
4.57 | 88 ratings
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MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA The Inner Mounting Flame Album Cover The Inner Mounting Flame
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA
4.56 | 68 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK Crossings Album Cover Crossings
HERBIE HANCOCK
4.57 | 53 ratings
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BILLY COBHAM Shabazz Album Cover Shabazz
BILLY COBHAM
4.63 | 16 ratings
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EDDIE HENDERSON Realization Album Cover Realization
EDDIE HENDERSON
4.60 | 14 ratings
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MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Birds of Fire Album Cover Birds of Fire
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA
4.46 | 70 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Dark Magus: Live at Carnegie Hall Album Cover Dark Magus: Live at Carnegie Hall
MILES DAVIS
4.50 | 25 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
4.45 | 22 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Big Fun Album Cover Big Fun
MILES DAVIS
4.42 | 27 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK Sextant Album Cover Sextant
HERBIE HANCOCK
4.38 | 40 ratings
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fusion Music Reviews

FREDDIE HUBBARD Keep Your Soul Together

Album · 1973 · Fusion
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js
Following leads set by Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis, jazz fusion with a bit (or a lot) of psychedelic production became a trend for a short while with varying degrees of success and/or failure for different artists. Freddie Hubbard’s 1973 release, “Keep Your Soul Together” is not exactly a particularly ‘trippy’ outing, but still there is a subtle touch of that ‘cosmic’ space that was hip at that time. Like Freddie’s career itself, this album is very eclectic ranging from laid back pop to frantic free form flights, all tied together with some spacious reverb and tasteful use of electronic effects.

Side one opens with “Brigitte”, a medium groove laid back ballad that might have you thinking this album is one of Freddie’s more commercial outings, but things pick up more steam after this opener. Side one closes with a lengthy workout on the album’s title track which is soul jazz topped with heated fusion solos and driven with interesting rhythm change-ups and horn arrangements. Side two continues the energy buildup with “Spirits of Trane”, a high speed post bop track played with a free jazz abandon. The album closes with, “Destiny’s Children”, which is classic Miles’ styled angry funk rock with the required screaming horn solo. Is it possible that this one is a slightly sarcastic shot at the dark prince.

With only four tracks for the whole album, one can easily surmise that there is plenty of solo room for the players as each number gets stretched out. All the soloists are good, but none can match Freddie who is in top form throughout and shows why he was/is the best trumpet player of his generation. This isn’t one of Hubbard’s best albums, it lacks a certain consistency in vision, but there is enough good 70s style jams on here to make it worth checking out.

PETE YELLIN Dance Of Allegra

Album · 1972 · Fusion
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js
Herbie Hancock’s Sextet of the early 70s,was a short lived ensemble, but the members of that group went on to record with other artists as leaders playing a similar experimental electric fusion. Many already know about similar groups led by Eddie Henderson, Bennie Maupin and Julius Priester, but lesser known are Sextet influenced recording dates led by Norman Connors, Buddy Terry and Pete Yellin. Many of these sessions not only included former Sextet members, but also musicians from the early versions of Return to Forever and Weather Report. Saxophonist Pete Yellin’s first recording as a leader, “Dance of Allegra”, features Henderson and Billy Hart from the Sextet, plus Stanley Clarke from RTF and Dom Um Romao from Weather Report. Back then Kenny Barron was often the fill in for fusion dates that Herbie couldn’t make, and he does an outstanding job on the Fender Rhodes. Whereas a lot of these musicians approached fusion from an RnB angle, Pete was a bopper and his playing reflects his interest in Charlie Parker, Phil Woods and Eric Dolphy. Indeed, Yellin would finish out his career with many fine hard bop outings and not much fusion.

“Dance of Allegra” opens with some Brazilian flavored grooves, played aggressively in the style of the times with many solos veering into free jazz terrain. The sound is very electric and almost psychedelic, although not quite as effects laden as Herbie’s classic recordings. Side one closes with an extended free bop jam that really fits with Yellin’s alto style. Side two is in more of a funk-fusion style, with the first track being the more agro, and the closer being the one track with a medium tempo, and features Yellin on flute. Needless to say, if you liked Herbie’s Sextet and its many spin off groups, you’ll probably like this one too. The playing is excellent, and the recording quality is bold and in your face.

STANCE TONGUE Our

Album · 2019 · Fusion
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DamoXt7942
Foundation is everything. Sounds like STANCE TONGUE's second creation "Our" mentions these words via the nine tracks by the quintet, let me say at first. A Nagoya-oriented jazz / funk quintet STANCE TONGUE were founded in 2014 featuring five individual talented musicians each of whom has different musical basis and taste from the others, but they can be merged, unified, harmonized, and completely crystallized as a perfect sound collective in this album (and maybe on stage, I've not attended yet though). Every tone via their instruments gets synchronized together and knocks our mind door step by step. Without any eccentricity nor oddness, the five gemstones polish themselves to brilliant gems through modest but steady play technique.

Keyboard-based beautiful lines here and there created by Hiroaki are wonderful, as if we lay down in a flowergarden. In "Freeway" it's crazy fascinating that fantastic saxophone vibes and percussive drumming are chasing after each other. Yumi's saxophone play should colourize their entire soundscape, it's apparent. Eizo's complicated guitar phrases in "No. 179" (means what?) is great indeed but no exaggeration nor bombast around him ... what an importance. Needless to say, the rhythm section - Nobukazu's drumming and Atsutomo's bass play - keeps supporting the whole sound atmosphere as a ground basis. The two fundamental players especially the bassist have no grandeur nor extraordinariness, but they make themselves behave as a backbone of the quintet ... yikes, their strict pay in a supportive, modest manner should be quite tougher than under the spotlight.

In any situation or under any circumstance, we can enjoy their sincere play.

MICHAEL GREGORY JACKSON Michael Gregory Jackson Clarity Quartet : WHENUFINDITUWILLKNOW

Album · 2019 · Fusion
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kev rowland
To say that Michael Gregory Jackson is a well-known guitarist who has influenced many others is something of an understatement. Pat Metheny said, *"I have always considered him to be one of the most significantly original guitarists of our generation," while another guitar icon, Bill Frisell, noted, "I first heard Michael Gregory Jackson in 1975 when I moved to Boston. He blew my mind and influenced me a lot. I believe he's one of the unsung innovators." And legendary music critic Robert Palmer wrote of Jackson in Rolling Stone, "By the time he was twenty-one he was already the most original jazz guitarist to emerge since the Sixties." Here he has been joined by Niels Praestholm (bass), Simon Spang-Hanssen (alto & soprano saxophones) and Matias Wolf Andreason (drums), and between them they created an album based on jazz but moving in many different directions. Jackson states his influences are Jimi Hendrix, Wes Montgomery, Son House, Igor Stravinsky, and John Coltrane in equal amounts, not a mix of musicians one would normally put together.

Jackson isn’t content with playing “just” guitar, and there are times when it is blues harmonica which is adding the most important dynamics to a section. For the most part he is happy for Spang-Hanssen to take the lead role, just sitting behind him and then adding touches and solos when the time is right. Praestholm is the person who keeps it all tied together, while Andreason switches between keeping the perfect beat and creating dramatic percussion rhythms which takes the music into new directions. This is fresh, exciting, sometimes built around repeated melodies (such as on “Blue Blue”), while at others it is avant garde and extreme. Far easier to listen to than many albums which attempt to stretch boundaries, it is full of light and a joyfulness which is palpable. This is also available through Bandcamp, so why not have a listen and then decide for yourself.

MISSUS BEASTLY Bremen 1974

Live album · 2006 · Fusion
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Igor91
The following is a review that I originally published on the sister website of Jazz Music Archives, Progarchives, on 1/15/17:

Missus Beastly's "Bremen 1974" is, in my opinion, their best release. This may be hard to believe, considering that it is a live recording from 1974 that was not released until almost 30 years after their final studio album. But this is an incredible, jammy, jazzrock recording that should get more attention.

I'm not really a huge fan of Missus Beastly's other releases, including their wildly different debut, but this one really grabs me. It's loose, yet tight at the same time, and is the only recording of splendid guitarist Eddy Marron's participation in the band. His excellent guitar work soars on this release and leaves one to wonder what the band's subsequent releases may have sounded like if he had stayed on. The album features 3 long, jam-heavy tracks, each one different from the other. The songs incorporate jazzrock, ethnic flourishes, psychedelia, and funk into a masterful live performance. Highly recommended for fans of German jazzrock from that era! 4 stars.

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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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