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Explorations of Jazz Fusion – Jazz Rock and Finding Connections to My Vinyl Collection

Bitches BrewSo a few days ago in my post about the sub-genres of jazz, I wrote that I still had some sub-genres to add to the mix. One of those sub-genres is Jazz Fusion/Jazz-Rock, which  rose in the late 60s, kinda’ peaked in the 1970s, but managed to extend into the 1980s and 90s and many musician’s music still  fit into sub-genre today!  This is probably the  sub-genre that I have least explored at least as far as jazz bands go. From Wikipedia…..

Jazz fusion, fusion, or jazz-rock are variants of a musical fusion genre that developed from mixing funk and R&B rhythms and the amplification and electronic effects of rock music, complex time signatures derived from non-Western music and extended, typically instrumental compositions with a jazz approach to lengthy group improvisations, often using wind and brass and displaying a high level of instrumental technique. It was created around the late 1960s. The term “jazz rock” is often used as a synonym for “jazz fusion” as well as for music performed by late 1960s and 1970s-era rock bands that added jazz elements to their music. Read More

While I loved one of the albums that ushered in the sub-genre, Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, I never really got into the music of the other practitioners of jazz fusion, Oh I occasionally listened to John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra or maybe Weather Report, but  I listened to very little of  Return to Forever, or Tony Williams Lifetime. With that said as I looked over the list of rock bands that fall into the sub-genre, jazz rock I saw the names ……Traffic, Santana, Cream, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Chicago, Lighthouse, Joni Mitchell, and Van Morrison all of whom figure prominently in my vinyl collection. If you throw Soft Machine and King Crimson into the mix my connections to jazz fusion grow larger. Nowadays, I’m always on the look out for bands whose music is included in the jazz fusion sub-genre. As  I read  about the sub-genre, I read that one of the rock musicians, who was a prime exponent of this genre, was Frank Zappa and one of the albums is Hot Rats. Now I have never been a fan of Zappa’s music, but I thought “hum. maybe I’m wrong” so tonight, I gave the album a listen and while the vocals still do nothing for me, I did think the music deserves some more listens and maybe even some of his other albums need to be explored. Finally, here some of the influential jazz fusion albums that should be checked out…..

Albums from the late 1960s and early 1970s include Miles Davis’ ambient-sounding In a Silent Way (1969) and his rock-infused Bitches Brew (1970). Davis’ A Tribute to Jack Johnson (1971) has been cited as “the purest electric jazz record ever made” and “one of the most remarkable jazz-rock discs of the era”.[23][24] His controversial album On the Corner (1972) has been viewed as a strong forerunner of the musical techniques of post punk, hip hop, drum and bass, and electronic music.[25] Throughout the 1970s, Weather Report released albums ranging from its 1971 self-titled disc Weather Report (1971) (which continued the style of Miles Davis album Bitches Brew) to 1979’s 8:30. Chick Corea’s Latin-oriented fusion band Return to Forever released influential albums such as 1973’s Light as a Feather. In that same year, Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters infused jazz-rock fusion with a heavy dose of Sly and the Family Stone-style funk. Virtuoso performer-composers played an important role in the 1970s. In 1976, fretless bassist Jaco Pastorius released Jaco Pastorius; electric and double bass player Stanley Clarke released School Days; and keyboardist Chick Corea released his Latin-infused My Spanish Heart, which received a five star review from Down Beat magazine.

Link – Wikipedia – List of Jazz Fusion Artists

So don’t think that you’ve heard the last about jazz fusion on this site!! I’m now listening to – The Complete In a Silent Way Recordings – I love Spotify and YouTube! Here’s Miles performing “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down” the band includes:Wayne Shorter – Soprano & Tenor Sax, Chick Corea – Rhodes, Dave Holland – Bass, Jack DeJohnette – Drums!