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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KEITH JARRETT The Köln Concert Album Cover The Köln Concert
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4.70 | 38 ratings
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4.56 | 17 ratings
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KEITH JARRETT Sleeper Album Cover Sleeper
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4.61 | 9 ratings
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KETIL BJØRNSTAD Ketil Bjørnstad / David Darling / Terje Rypdal / Jon Christensen : The Sea Album Cover Ketil Bjørnstad / David Darling / Terje Rypdal / Jon Christensen : The Sea
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CHARLES LLOYD
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TOMASZ STAŃKO Litania: Music of Krzysztof Komeda Album Cover Litania: Music of Krzysztof Komeda
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post-fusion contemporary Music Reviews

JOEY ALEXANDER Continuance

Album · 2023 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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Carmel
In contemporary jazz, few artists in their early twenties—or any age, for that matter—have encapsulated the essence of innovation, technical fluidity, and emotional depth as Joey Alexander. With his offering, "Continuance," Alexander's seventh studio album, Alexander shows his evolving artistry and indelible influence from the broader span of music, achieved at the tender age of 20. This album provides a precise listening experience of emotional narratives and complex musical ideas with a maturity that belies his years.

At the heart of "Continuance" lies Alexander's command of the piano, a skill that intertwines effortlessly with his compositional contributions tone. The album, featuring a mix of five of his original compositions alongside transformative renditions of "I Can't Make You Love Me" and "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," showcases Alexander's maturity as a performer, composer, and arranger. His ability to phrase melodies like stories through harmonies is particularly evident in "Blue." Here, Alexander employs a staccato riff as the foundational motif, which blossoms under his touch into a captivating narrative, enhanced by Kris Funn's bass and John Davis's drums, with Theo Croker's trumpet melodies adding a layer of warmth. Alexander's solo is a musical narration marked by dynamic contrasts and a fluent, elegant groove that speaks volumes of his emotional intelligence as a musician.

"Hear Me Now" is another composition that underscores Alexander's finesse in melding textures and tones. The addition of the Mellotron introduces a classical dimension to the jazz quartet, creating a space that feels familiar and fresh. Alexander's exploration of harmonic textures and mood shifts in this piece highlights his compositional development, offering a sonic experience as rich in emotion as technical sophistication.

His rendition of "I Can't Make You Love Me" has a balance of harmonic complexity and emotional appeal. Alexander's dual performance on piano and Fender Rhodes injects a fresh vitality into this pop-rock hit, supported by Funn's resonant bass and the cohesive dynamism of Davis' drums. This arrangement bridges pop-rock and contemporary jazz, infusing new life into a well-loved melody with an artistic vision.

"Continuance" is a strong presence in Alexander's discography, marking a phase of artistic variability and creative maturity. This album emphasizes storytelling, textural richness, and rhythmic sophistication. The synergy between Alexander and his rhythms section and Theo Croker's contributions elevates the album to a conversational and engaging performance. The ensemble's cohesion and the intuitive interplay bring Alexander's compositions to life, making "Continuance" have a narrative of growth, exploration, and depth of styles.

ALBARE Long Way

Album · 2012 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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Rexorcist
I don't hear a lot of jazz albums that I legitimately don't like. I mean, it's absolutely rate. But if you're to better yourself as a reviewer, don't be afraid of low quality. Tarantino himself admitted that watching bad movies taught him what not to do when making good ones. So with the first three Albare albums I hear, Acid Love, What Goes Around and Midnight Blues all being disappointing, if I can get my ears on an Albare album no matter how rare it is, I'll be up on it. The fourth of these is Long Way.

Long Way sees Albare do something he had never done before: focus on the music rather than dork around. With so many unfocused compositions defining his early career, this is a massive step forward. The title track and Eagle's Way in particular are surprisingly consistent, and feature some REAL jazz among the smoothness of this newfound genre he's chosen. I actually kind of enjoyed the first half. Of course, as soon as side B starts, I got really bored. it feels like it's trying to be an avant-garde piece that fits comfortably with the fusion of the entire first half, but ultimately fails. It's far too random and dull, like the entirety of Albare's album Midnight Blues. Thankfully, this issue seems to be fixed as soon as You Make Me Smile comes on, and we go back to that soft blend of smooth, fusion and cool jazz, and with the occasional if not faint Latin touch.

Albare finally grew up. This album would show a lot of promise for the future, assuming he actually did improve again after this. Albare, probably the worst jazz musician I've been exposed to thus far, finally did something likable. It;s kinda cool, nice and soft and doesn't flaunt anything while not being underwhelming or lacking in any form of rhythm.

ALBARE Acid Love Vol.1

Album · 1992 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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Rexorcist
I'm actually glad that I discovered Albare. A part of my studies in the world of music is to find albums people hate in order to compare them to the ones they love and see if I agree. Now I don't always agree with them, as I admit to thinking Kenny G is nowhere near as bad as the jazz community states. He's an adult contemporary artist, and I think the standards of that genre should be taken into account. Besides, if you compare him to Albare, you may see Kenny G in the same light I saw Lady Gaga after comparing her to Corey Feldman.

Albare's debut is an acid fusion album where the hip hop and funk influences sometimes feel too strong or too forces. While the album has a fair amount of variety to it, every single melody feels half-assed or incomplete, like Albare decided that jazz was all about playing random notes in inappropriate places and calling it cool. While it's not the worst jazz album I've heard, that's the same mentality that made Manos such a bad movie. No joke. Albare obviously just wanted to be cool with this album. I barely felt any real groove coming from any one of his songs. Sure, the acid fusion genre combination was pretty cool, but that's literally the only compliment I have for this album. If I had anything else that wasn't "negative" to say, I'd say the production didn't fail.

SIDSEL ENDRESEN So I Write

Album · 1990 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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Matti P
To cite All Music Guide, Norwegian SIDSEL ENDRESEN (b. 1952) "is one of those 1990's artists who demonstrate the increasing difficulty in applying traditional 20th-century categorizations to many contemporary music albums". She started her career in music in a short-lived soul group Chiupahua in 1979, after which she sang in Jon Eberson Group from 1980 to 1987. Her solo debut So I Write is the only album I'm familiar with; I found it around 1994 from library, at the time I got interested in jazz and especially the ECM label. The trademark spatial production of Manfred Eicher is indeed unmistakable here. Actually this is one of the most spatial and sonically minimalistic VOCAL albums I've ever listened to, of any genre.

Endresen wrote the lyrics, and the composition credits are shared by various people such as Jon Balke who's not playing on the album. The accompanying musicians are pianist Django Bates -- I remember him from Bill Bruford's Earthworks --, Nils Petter Molvaer on trumpet, flugelhorn and percussion, and percussionist Jon Christensen. Those who know Molvaer may have some idea of the ambient-ish and slightly experimental music.

I was mildly charmed by the album back then, both because of the minimal soundscape and Endresen's personal voice. The All Music Guide refers her voice to Sandy Denny which I don't quite agree with. Endresen's expression has fragility and intimacy but a certain grittiness and introversion, too. It's not a "beautiful" voice, it's like a shy and shabby film character you somehow get deeply curious about.

Despite the strange charm, some tracks I find rather boring, to be honest. For example 'Truth' (7:25) that features just hand percussion and very sparse vocals, and without much of melodies, fails to interest me at all. However the majority of the eight tracks are fascinating with the spatial and introvertly thoughtful/meditative combination of the spoken-oriented voice and sparsely played instruments.

The piece that I'm most impressed by is 'This Is the Movie', not least because of the narrative lyrics about a haphazard meeting of a man and a woman. 'Dreamland' and 'Horses in Rain' are the next best ones, also they have a rare, poetic atmosphere -- and a melodic level, although intendedly a very thin one. Sadly YouTube has very little samples from Sidsel Endresen.

TORD GUSTAVSEN Tord Gustavsen Quartet ‎: The Well

Album · 2012 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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Matti P
Norwegian jazz pianist and composer TORD GUSTAVSEN (b. 1970) has recorded albums since 2003, with either the word trio, quartet or ensemble following his name on the cover. Years back I have grown a fondness for two of his trio albums, featuring naturally piano, bass and drums.

This 53-minute album is my first acquaintance for his quartet format, the fourth instrument being a tenor saxophone. I am very rewarded, as the essence of his music remains to be lyrical, serene and introspectively thoughtful, in the finest ECM tradition. The touch of the legendary producer Manfred Eicher is easily recognized, and to a fan of the label that's a positive thing. Sax helps to get associations to Jan Garbarek in the overall spirit, but Gustavsen's music with the emphasis on piano has its own individual personality. The presence of the sax is mostly inferior to the piano during the whole album, and whenever it arrives, it adds another thoughtful element to the sound without breaking the harmonic introspection.

On the slow, melancholic 'Prelude' the sax just gently breathes along the piano melody. On the slightly louder but apparently saxless track 'Playing' the drums appear even before the piano starts, and the double bass is occasionally played with a bow, thus resembling a cello. The longest piece 'Suite' (8:19) has a beautifully calm first section to where the sax arrives as the melodic lead instrument for a while. The track flows very elegantly with a mysterious flair. The sense of a dream or a mystery is even stronger on 'Communion' where the percussion is very sparse and where there are occasionally some peculiar wailing sounds. The quiet, breathy sax is lovely.

I remember some almost Elton John reminding sweet piano melodies from an earlier trio album, and here 'Circling' does the same. That nicely prevents the album of becoming too introvert. Nevertheless, safe to say that to enjoy this album a lot requires a sincere taste for moody introspection and serenity.

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