|Jazz-Rock Fusion or Fusion is a style of music that emerged
at the end of the 1960s. It is different from earlier jazz in a number of ways:|
Many of the musicians listed below worked with Miles Davis, who is considered an important figure in jazz. He began his career playing be-bop in Charlie Parkerís band in the 1940s, helped to define the cool school, the return to the hot and modal jazz in the 1950s and then subsequently seeded jazz-rock fusion with the albums In A Silent Way (1969) and Bitches Brew (1970). On In A Silent Way the three keyboard players used electric pianos and the personnel went on to become leaders of important jazz-rock fusion bands in the 1970s as follows:
|Josef Zawinul *
|Wayne Shorter *
|Chick Corea *
|John McLaughlin *
|Dave Holland *
|Sextet||Weather Report||Return To Forever||Mahavishnu Orchestra||Gateway||Lifetime|
Bennie Maupin *
Miroslav Vitous, Alphonse Mouzon,
Airto Moreira, Barbara Button, Don Alias, Dom Um Romao, Eric Gravatt, Ralph Towner, Herschell Dwellingham, Andrew White III, Ishmail Wilburn, Alphonso Johnson, Alyrio Lima, Leon "Ndugu" Chancler, Chester Thompson, Jaco Pastorius, Alex Acuna, Narada Michael Walden, Manolo Badrena, Peter Erskine, Omar Hakim and others
Lenny White *
Al Di Meola
Jean Luc Ponty
Narada Michael Walden
Jack De Johnette *
Larry Young *
|* These musicians also appeared on Bitches Brew.|
Developments in Context: The 1960s|
Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams were all members of Miles Davis's classic 1960s quintet, along with bassist Ron Carter. Chick Corea and Dave Holland came in in place of Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter during the recording of Filles de Kilimanjaro (1968), the album immediately before In a Silent Way.
During the 1960s there was a rapid development and expansion of multi track tape recording with the introduction of four, eight, sixteen and a little later 24 track tape recorders, which were to become industry standard by the mid 1970s. The availability of more tracks meant that each instrument could have its own track or tracks, that a musician could overdub additional parts once the basic tracking was done, and that more complex music could be created in the recording studio.
Fusion sounds different to earlier jazz because it emerged at a time when the musicians were able to exploit these developments in recording technology. So while the possibility of overdubbing a solo may be at odds with the traditional jazz ethos which sees group dynamics and interplay as important when improvising a solo in real time, there is no reason why an overdubbed solo couldn't be equally compelling as any other kind of improvisation when played by a skilled jazz musician.
While some of the important rock musicians from the 1960s onwards were equally skilled, a lot of the rock music of the 1960s was based on more straight forward music (blues, rhythm and blues or rock and roll), when compared to some of the developments in jazz in the same period (e.g. the music of John Coltrane, free jazz). Nevertheless, the same advances in recording technology described above were increasingly exploited in rock and popular music, leading to the emergence of progressive rock in the late 1960s, which is a genre more commonly associated with British bands like King Crimson, Yes and Genesis.
Chicago and Blood Sweat and Tears were both formed in 1967 and both made jazz influenced rock or jazz-rock from that time.
Developments in Context: The 1970s
Formed in 1971, Weather Report began as a more experimental jazz group but later became more commercially orientated. The lineup of the band changed from album to album, with only founders Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter remaining constant. On Bitches Brew and on many of the subsequent Weather Report cuts Wayne Shorter played soprano saxophone.
Chick Corea recorded Return to Forever with Joe Farrell (flutes, soprano saxophone), Flora Purim (vocal, percussion), Stanley Clarke (bass) and Airto Moreira (drums, percussion) for the ECM label in 1972 and subsequently adopted Return to Forever as the name of his band. With the departure of Airto, Flora and Joe Farrell after Light As A Feather (1973) the band became more electric and rock orientated with the arrival of their replacements, drummer Lenny White and guitarist Bill Connors, with only Stanley Clarke remaining from the original lineup. Bill Connors was subsequently replaced by Al Di Meola.
There were two main incarnations of John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra. The first, formed in 1971, included Jerry Goodman (violin), Jan Hammer (keyboards), Rick Laird (bass) and Billy Cobham (drums). The second incarnation consisted of Jean Luc Ponty (violin), Gail Moran (keyboards), Ralphe Armstrong (bass) and Narada Michael Walden (drums). John McLaughlin reformed the band in 1984.
During the early 1970s Santana evolved from a latin flavoured rock band into a formidable fusion outfit with bass player Doug Rauch and keyboard player Tom Coster joining the band for Caravanserai (1972) and second keyboard player Richard Kermode added on Welcome (1973). Carlos Santana joined forces with Mahavishnu John McLaughlin for Love Devotion Surrender (1973) and the new Santana band (as it became known) also recorded the triple vinyl live album Lotus (1974) in Japan.
Steely Dan also made jazz influenced rock from 1972 onwards and as their career progressed, they increasingly recorded using top session musicians, many of whom were jazz musicians.
Another influential musician identified with the fusion movement is guitarist Larry Coryell. English outfits Nucleus, Soft Machine and Brand X are also worthy of mention.
Musicians already listed under the bands above who have also made albums as leaders and/or under their own names include Miroslav Vitous, Airto Moreira, Ralph Towner, Alphonso Johnson, Jaco Pastorius, Narada Michael Walden, Peter Erskine, Joe Farrell, Stanley Clarke, Flora Purim, Lenny White, Bill Connors, Al Di Meola, Jan Hammer, Billy Cobham, Jean Luc Ponty, John Abercrombie, Jack De Johnette, Dave Holland, Larry Young, Jack Bruce and Ron Carter.
The ECM (Edition of Contemporary Music) record label was founded in Munich, Germany in 1969 by Manfred Eicher, who has also produced most of the label's considerable output over the last 50 years. Artists recording on the label include European musicians like Eberhard Weber, Jan Gabarek and Terje Rypdal, American musicians such as Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Jack de Johnette and Pat Metheny, as well as combinations of musicians from different countries. Much of the label's output could be described as contemporary jazz or art music with a classical or European flavour, although many, including artists on the label, may not like these descriptions. It is known that musicians like Pat Metheny do not like the term fusion.
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