Onttype14. What is Jazz/Rock Fusion?
Methodology for Investigating Jazz/Rock Fusion
Of course the name tells it all. Or does it? That's the problem, isn't it? How much jazz is contained in jazz rock fusion? And, we do know the answer to this question. It varies. What happened in the history of the music was that musicians with jazz and some rock and roll/funk/back beat/jam band style experience decided intentionally to incorporate all of these elements into a new genre or sub-category of music that became jazz/rock fusion.
By tracing the actual properties of actual already acknowledged jazz/rock fusion pioneering albums one can generalize on the musical characteristics that help to define this style of music.
One can argue, and it has been so argued, that Larry Coryell's (he's on the far left in photo) group, The Free Spirits, who opened for both Jimi Hendrix and The Doors, were the first group that recorded jazz/rock fusion in their album, "Out Of Sight And Sound."
Interestingly, the group's original intentions had been to form as a jazz band, but lead guitarist Coryell brought some rock sensibilities into the group's music, according to drummer Bob Moses.
➢ What are the acknowledged jazz/rock fusion groups and albums?
Acknowledged Jazz/Rock Fusion Groups and albums
|Group Name & (Active Years)||Albums with (Year)||Prominent Members & Instruments||Music Characterized|
|The Tony Williams Lifetime (1969-1976)|| Emergency! (1969)
|| ◦ Tony Williams - drums/vocals
◦ John McLaughlin - electric guitar
◦ Larry Young - (a.k.a. Khalid Yasin) on organ
| • Power Trio |
|Miles Davis (1969-1991)|| ‣ In A Silent Way (1969)
‣ Bitches Brew (1970)
‣ Miles Davis At Fillmore (1970)
‣ Jack Johnson (1971)
‣ Live-Evil (1971)
‣ On The Corner (1972)
‣ Get Up With It (recorded 1970-74; released 1974)
‣ Big Fun (recorded 1969-72; released 1974)
‣ Dark Magus (live double album recorded in 1974; only released inn Japan, 1977; released in U.S. 1997)
‣ Agharta (live double album released 1975)
‣ Pangaea (live double album exclusively released in Japan 1976; digitally remastered & released in U.S. 1990)
‣ Live at the Fillmore East March 7, 1970: It's About that Time (live double bootleg; recorded 1970, released 2001)
| ◦ Miles Davis – trumpet
◦ Wayne Shorter – soprano saxophone
◦ Bennie Maupin – bass clarinet
◦ Joe Zawinul – electric piano – Left
◦ Larry Young – electric piano – Center
◦ Chick Corea – electric piano – Right
◦ John McLaughlin – electric guitar
◦ Dave Holland – bass
◦ Harvey Brooks – electric bass
◦ Lenny White – drum set – Left
◦ Jack DeJohnette – drum set – Right
◦ Don Alias – congas
• Davis electrified his trumpet
• used Wah-wah pedal with trumpet
• dual electric keyboards
• loud amplified electric instruments with lots of sound dynamics when played live
• utilized elements from funk and rock
• “Playing his trumpet through electronic effects, Davis got a haunting, echoey sound, and he sprayed delicate lines of improvised melody against the canvas of throbbing, pulsing sounds.”
• draws you in
“Andy Gill of The Independent commented that the concerts featured on the album (Bitches Brew Live; released 2011 from recordings in 1969 & 1970) "capture Davis on the cusp of creating another jazz revolution" and described its music as "jazz reconstituting after meltdown, like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis: free-wheeling, edgy, unpredictable and coruscating, and about as hot as this legend of cool ever got."
| Mahavishnu Orchestra (1971-76; 1984-87)
(At New York Philharmonic Hall, December 1973, (l-r) Jerry Goodman, Jan Hammer, John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, Rick Laird)
|‣ Inner Mounting Flame (1973)|| ◦ John McLaughlin - double neck guitar (six-string and twelve-string) which allowed for a great degree of diversity in musical textures
◦ Jerry Goodman - electric violin
◦ Jan Hammer - Minimoog synthesizer, keyboards
◦ Rick Laird - electric bass
◦ Billy Cobham - drums, percussion
| • lyrical |
• displayed high technical virtuosity on their instruments and arrangements
|Return to Forever (1972–1977, 1983, 2008, 2010–present)||‣ Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (1973)|| ◦ Chick Corea - keyboards
◦ Stanley Clarke - bass
◦ Lenny White - drums
◦ Bill Connors - electric guitar
◦ Mingo Lewis - percussionist
| • heavy guitar |
• lots of group interaction
|Weather Report (1970-1986)|| ◦ Joe Zawinul - keyboards
◦ Wayne Shorter - tenor and soprano saxophone < br/> ◦ Miroslav Vitouš - bass
◦ Alphonso Johnson - bass
◦ Jaco Pastorius - bass
◦ Victor Bailey - bass
◦ Peter Erskine - drums
◦ Alex Acuña - percussion
◦ Airto Moreira - percussion
◦ Chester Thompson - drums
| • “Zawinul took increasing control and steered the band towards a more funk, R&B oriented sound.” |
|PLACE HOLDER (1969)||◦|| • |
- The claim that The Free Spirits album, "Out of Sight and Sound" (ABC records, 1967) contained the first recorded jazz/rock fusion is affirmed by several sources, first in Unknown Legends of Rock 'n' Roll: Psychedelic Unknowns, Mad Geniuses, Punk Pioneers, Lo-fi Mavericks & More, Richie Unterberger, Backbeat Books, 1998, p. 329. ISBN 0-87930-534-7 which was the basis for its being re-affirmed in the opening sentence of Wikipedia: The Free Spirits: “Coryell’s subsequent experiments with The Free Spirits—tenor saxophonist Jim Pepper, rhythm guitarist Chip Baker, bassist Chris Hills and drummer Bob Moses—further bridged the worlds of jazz and rock, pre-dating the formation of Blood, Sweat & Tears, which also blended horns and rock rhythms with pop singing and jazzy improvisation. The Free Spirits’ 1967 ABC Records debut, "Out Of Sight And Sound," is often called the first-ever jazz-rock album.” (bold not in original) and again claimed at "Remembering Larry Coryell," Bill Milkowski, published February, 2017.
- Wikipedia: The Free Spirits: “The band (The Free Spirits) formed in New York as a jazz outfit and each member of the band (excluding rhythm guitar player Columbus "Chip" Baker) had a background in the music. According to the band's drummer, Bob Moses, it was the band's lead guitar player, Larry Coryell, who helped turn the group on to more rock-oriented music. (first paragraph and footnote 1) (bold not in original)
- Because groups can remain active for many years with changing personnel, not all group members are listed. For a complete list see the Wikipedia (or other) entry by clicking on the group name.
- Top 10 Miles Davis fusion albums at Discogs.com.
- "A Brief Fusion Jazz History," Miles Davis, second paragraph.
- Wikipedia: Bitches Brew Live, "Critical Reception," first paragraph, quoting Andy Gill's review, "Album: Miles Davis, Bitches Brew Live (Columbia)," The Independent, Retrieved October 20, 2011.
- Wikipedia: Weather Report, first paragraph.