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Thread: Was jazz-fusion a dead end music genre?

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    The concept of a fusion of styles has carried on in jungle, hardcore, etc I suppose, but I rarely hear anything that's directly influenced by the 70s fusion sound itself other than some of Squarepusher's stuff, and in a way he's kind of the electronic equivelent of jazz-fusion. On a related thought, was fusion the IDM of jazz?
    (1) If you look closely at the origins of most genres, I think that you will find that there was a 'fusion' of influences. It was certainly true of jazz and blues, and early rock 'n roll, and so on into the night. I don't think that 'jazz fusion' was anymore a 'fusion' of styles than say house, hip-hop, or, as you say, jungle. Actually, jazz fusion was perhaps even less of a 'fusion' than many other genres preceding and subsequent. Minor point.

    (2) From the historical point of view, it is quite easy to see why there was an appeal for some jazz musicians to take advantage of electric instruments, amplification, a freer approach to (often modal) improvisation and composition, and the energy provided by a drummer playing more in a rock than jazz style. In the same way that your average hipster rock musician might be hostile to electronic music and DJ culture (sad but true), most jazz musicians had no interest in crossing over into the electric realm. But for those who did, and who did so in the spirit of experimentation, creative 'freedom,' and boundary-pushing, the leap into the realm of electric amplification was a very natural step. If the output did not necessary give rise to new genres, then as francesco says, so what, it is still a very interesting dead end.

    (3) Jazz fusion of the late Miles-period needs to be kept separate from the mid-to-late 1980s version, which was much more watered down (but still occasionally worthwhile). There is a big difference between Live Evil and a Mike Stern solo album, for example, even though Stern was himself a Miles alumnus. By the mid-80s the fusion world had adopted synths, even synth guitars (!) (suppressing giggles) (e.g. Allan Holdsworth), and a general lack of bite - the first step was to begin with distortion . . . but by the mid 1980s, the fusionists were largely abandoning the raw distorted energy of earlier approaches, but were still exploring the harmonic and sonic parameters of a 'fusion' that was no longer straight jazz, but was also far from free jazz, jazz funk, psychedelia, prog, and the like.

    (4) All of this is of course somewhat but not entirely separate from jazz-funk, which remains for me one of the more fascinating, and rich, chapters in music history, since it began in the 1960s as a synthesis of jazz, Sly & the Family Stone, Stax recs, and even Philly soul, and continues (as you all know) down to the UK version rare groove, acid house, and the like. From Miles to Fela Kuti to Roy Ayers and countless others, when one listens to records in the tradition of jazz-funk, one can hear an enormous amount of stylistic variation, internal genric developments, and flows of tradition. But the neat thing is that, not unlike early electric jazz fusion, a person can almost immediately understand the appeal of blending the harmonic and instrumental parameters of jazz with the hotter beats from funk and soul. And during one all too brief period, this music was everywhere, from Miles, to Sun Ra (see Languidity), to Fela, even to psychedlia-steeped folks like Doctor John.

    (5) As for specifics, I guess I disagree with Francesco that Mahavishnu's Inner Mounting Flame is the only one to check (I mean, if you are interested in such indulgent things, haha). Birds of Fire is almost as good, the live Between Nothingness and Eternity is somewhat interesting, and last but certainly not least, there is the Lost Trident Sessions record which, though recorded in the studio in 1973 and shelved, was not released until 1999 - it's a fascinating document.

    What about the Shakti recordings and all of that Indophilia? What a trip. John in his devotion to Sri Chinmoy. John and Carlos Santana's record togehter. And McGlaughlin's My Goals Beyond, one of my favorite records from boyhood. "Peace One," "Peace Two," "Follow Your Heart" . . .

    (6) I'd say that if we were really to talk about the period from the mid-60s to the mid-80s, we'd need to differentiate to a degree between mainstream jazz, early electric jazz fusion, jazz funk, free jazz, psyche/psychedelia, contemporary classical (remember "third stream"?!!! Lennie Tristano et al), rock, and prog -- just for starters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    Thanks for the recommendations Troy and Francesco, I'll check them out!

    Agreed on Weather Report, Francesco... can't stand them.

    As far as prog goes, I sometimes wonder if it didn't have the influence on the future of music perhaps as much as it was supposed to, because punk unfairly killed it off, or because the ideas really weren't useful enough for pop music to build on. Kraut rock and postpunk were much more successful "progressive" styles in that they had vision but it was simple and minimal enough for later movements to build on.

    Although come to think of it, the technicality of prog did have a big effect on a lot of metal. Which is interesting because prog was supposed to be intellectual and progressive, but all the progressives and art school kids ended up adopting a more simple take on art rock via punk, postpunk, and indie, while prog's legacy ended up influencing the very working class (and some consider dumb and brutal) metal scene.

    Back on fusion, if it was simply meant for enjoyment, that's a worthy enough purpose, but I just always thought of it as one of the least influencial styles. Jazz pretty much died with fusion (unless you consider smooth jazz, which I wouldn't even count), although I guess I can't blame fusion for jazz's death... jazz was pretty much culturally irrelivent by the mid 70s as far as I can tell, and all that could be done in jazz by that point was musically acknowledge the style that had replaced it (rock). So I guess jazz fusion was at least a relevant enough idea in working with the forms of it's time.

    Well, off again... I'm seeing Ariel Pink and Beach House tonight, lets see if Ariel's shows really are as bad as I've heard...

    YES OTM- prog lives on massively in metal. I would take some issue with whether more textural artrock is necessarily less complex the classic era prog except in terms of technical virtuosity, which is obviously not the same thing as "complexity".

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo View Post
    John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra -- Birds of Fire...remember listening to it as a teen and thinking this was the most explosive guitar ever! Haven't heard it in decades, not sure how well it's aged.
    It's still shit hot... I came across it again fairly recently & find it utterly compelling. Stuck it on while I was supposed to be cleaning my flat... ended up just sitting & listening for the duration. Superb album.

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by tate View Post
    By the mid-80s the fusion world had adopted synths, even synth guitars (!) (suppressing giggles) (e.g. Allan Holdsworth),
    Pat Metheny's guitar/synclavier work on Offramp (1982) is awesome ...

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    Was fusion more important than I'm realizing, and if so, what has it influenced? Any good album recommendations? I've never been the biggest fan of the stuff but I have a pretty open mind...
    there's some heavy fusion records.

    one way of looking at it was as a form of jazz which recconnected with the dancefloor (ie Jazz's) true New Orleans bad-self/history:

    anything produced by the mizell brothers is good.
    donal byrd: blackbyrd
    the blackbyrds
    johnny hammond: shiftin gears

    another good way of seeing it is as the extension of electric-miles and thus, simply, "modern" jazz:

    mahavishnu orchestra: birds of fire/inner mounting flame
    weather report: sweetnighter (i've had a few of theirs but this is easily the best)
    herbie hancock: mwandishi/sextant

    (notice the prepeonderance of former davis alumni in this latter batch)

    i too am interested in the prog/fusion crossover- most especially

    hatfield and the north's debut

    which takes on the electric miles thing too.

    (incidentally soft machine 3 is a complete rip-off of bitches brew-but not a very good one i dont think)

    other classic prog fusion would be the italian arti e mesteri record. that's a bit vomitous.

    would struggle to make a case for the likes of john klemmer and al di meola but i've surprised myself in the past.

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    on the pro-fusion angle also i remember Nucleous and Ben on the Vertigo label, i have some tracks of them on the Vertigo Time Machine comp, they are very Miles/Soft Machine sounding for what I remember (Ian Carr, leader of Nucleus, wrote a book on Miles). nothing really exiting but a nice footnote.

    Then can the Zappa of Hot Rats and the Grand Wazoo be considered progrockjazz ?, i think so, and also George Duke on those records, Geroge Duke on the '70 is very jazzprog.

    Obviously Henry Cow first has a strong rockfusion taste.


    What progjazz usually totally lacks is funk. Maybe THE funkjazz album is the aforementioned Blackbyrd, one of the greatest records ever. (for people interested in great jazzfunk but not willing to go bankrupt there is the really nice Pulp Fusion compilations series on Harmless, both lps and cds, that is really a pleasure).

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    children of forever by children of forever is a great lp, one of my faves from when i was little like.
    my goals beyond by john mc g too.
    those 70's herbie albums are essential.
    dorothy ashbys world fusiony album the rubiat of .. is great too, love the overbearing mysticism.

    james blood ulmer - some of his stuff is great and sits neatly inside post punk as do people like arthur russell and bill laswell to an extent.

    i reckon there is alot of fusion in hip hop, its an essential place to find breaks, the flashy nature of the music has momentary bars which really work looped etc. even the bad fusion.
    Last edited by mms; 20-11-2006 at 08:32 PM.

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    i haven't heard much in the way of jazz fusion but if anything else comes close to the atmosphere and pace of miles' he loved him madly, i'd like to hear it. if this is a dead end, it's a glorious dead end!

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    Quote Originally Posted by gek-opel View Post
    YES OTM- prog lives on massively in metal.
    Out of curiosity, what bands do you have in mind? The drone/doom strand of Sunn0))), Khanate, Isis, Pelican, Jesu, Neurosis, etc? I'm genuinely curious, b/c my metal listening ended sometime around the release of master of puppets, though I've been checking all of the so-called newer drone metal bands much the result of dissensians' prosyletizing . . . smile . . . I don't like mastodon at all, I must say . . . was curious.

    Digression over, now back to jazz fusion, about which I hope and think that there is still very much to say.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tate View Post
    Out of curiosity, what [metal] bands do you have in mind?
    I think that when (modern, alas no heavy rockblues) Metal is referred as the new Prog this goes in referee to Death Metal, , most of Doom Metal, and obviously all of so called Progressive Metal . I would have not consider Drone Metal in his purest incarnation (Earth, firsts SunnO))) records) and his structural and tonal simplicity prog not a little bit but obviously in it's current evolution toward artRock (Isis, Kanathe) it's, yes, becoming to go prog (an illness that plague a lot of musical genres, ask Goldie, so go figure!). Black Metal, born as a total antithesis to technique and progressive (Venom, Hellhammer, Darkthrone, Mayhem) evolved in symphonic too (Celtic Frost circa 'into the pandemonium', Emperor, Satyricon (who cited as influence italian prog like Osanna), Cradle of Filth).

    Talkin' of Thrash Metallica have prog overtones on the Ride the Lightning/Master of Puppets/and Justice for All trilogy. And NWOBHM heroes, Iron Maiden, or Angel Witch, well, with titles like 'rhyme of the ancient mariner'....

    ...anyway the (silly) seriousness, being heavy on boring concepts, instrumental technique, this 'classical music' for retarded thirteen years old fanboys, the album covers, quite all metal reeks of Prog. Not AC/DC anyway, neither Reeks of Putrefaction by Carcass (what? ).

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    Quote Originally Posted by francesco View Post
    I think that when (modern, alas no heavy rockblues) Metal is referred as the new Prog this goes in referee to Death Metal, , most of Doom Metal, and obviously all of so called Progressive Metal . I would have not consider Drone Metal in his purest incarnation (Earth, firsts SunnO))) records) and his structural and tonal simplicity prog not a little bit but obviously in it's current evolution toward artRock (Isis, Kanathe) it's, yes, becoming to go prog (an illness that plague a lot of musical genres, ask Goldie, so go figure!). Black Metal, born as a total antithesis to technique and progressive (Venom, Hellhammer, Darkthrone, Mayhem) evolved in symphonic too (Celtic Frost circa 'into the pandemonium', Emperor, Satyricon (who cited as influence italian prog like Osanna), Cradle of Filth).

    Talkin' of Thrash Metallica have prog overtones on the Ride the Lightning/Master of Puppets/and Justice for All trilogy. And NWOBHM heroes, Iron Maiden, or Angel Witch, well, with titles like 'rhyme of the ancient mariner'....

    ...anyway the (silly) seriousness, being heavy on boring concepts, instrumental technique, this 'classical music' for retarded thirteen years old fanboys, the album covers, quite all metal reeks of Prog. Not AC/DC anyway, neither Reeks of Putrefaction by Carcass (what? ).
    Thank you, Francesco. Actually, earlier this evening I went back and checked your threads on doom metal and black metal. Quite intriguing!

    As for your link to the "prog metal" page, yes, I know those bands all too well. I saw the grace under pressure tour as a boy and remember when the warning was released, the video to "take hold of the flame" and so forth used to be played on cable tv on friday nights. . . gasps and giggles . . . and I certainly never considered king's x worth much more than a quick ear-candy fix, or tool, much later, save for a few songs . . . there is something inherently silly to me about 'metal' which i find myself unable to abide - and that is speaking as someone who remembers when powerslave and turbo were released. I have a slightly different perspective on the drone metal, I guess, b/c I witnessed firsthand earlier versions of some of that.
    Last edited by tate; 21-11-2006 at 07:47 AM.

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    Francesco OTM... pretty much touched on all the prog-ish metal bands and styles I had in mind; mid 80s thrash metal (adding Megadeth to the list), symphonic black metal, NWOBHM...

    ...anyway the (silly) seriousness, being heavy on boring concepts, instrumental technique, this 'classical music' for retarded thirteen years old fanboys, the album covers, quite all metal reeks of Prog.
    Seriously, although there were the more traditional rock n roll, non-prog metal bands; Motorhead (despite Lemmy's Hawkwind roots), GnR, AC/DC, Judas Priest (except for maybe the synth solo on Turbo Lover and the 80s scifi album covers), and probably all of the LA hair bands.

    As far as jazz-fusion's influence, I just realized that the American jamband scene is massively influenced by jazz-fusion as well as prog. Early 70s Grateful Dead was quite jazzy (the concerts, not the albums), but Phish in particular were very influenced by John McLaughlin, Metheny, and late Miles, as well as Zappa, King Crimson, and early Genesis; in turn spawning countless white jazz-rock-funk-fusion hippie wankfest bands. Actually... one of my deep, dark secrets is that I kind of have a soft spot for the Dead (though I never listen to them these days), but I really can't stand the rest of that stuff. I won't completely discredit Phish though, they're just not my thing.

    Again, thanks to all for the additional recommendations...
    Last edited by Chris; 21-11-2006 at 07:18 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by francesco View Post
    Eddie Henderson’s Realization and Inside Out.
    Inside Out is an amazing record, as is Sunburst

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    Quote Originally Posted by gek-opel View Post
    I wouldn't really classify Henry Cow or Soft Machine as prog, although they clearly have some relation to it (ie Henry Cow are rock-in-opposition, and much more along the lines of what interests me, with the level of atonality going on and use of more modern "classical" influences). I was talking more of the classic UK big prog acts of the late 60s to late 70s.
    Ever since punk made all things prog forbidden, people have been classifying the prog they like as something else (RIO, art rock, kraut...). It seems to me that most people are defining prog by the punk prejudices, rather than looking at the movement as it happened back then. There's lots of atonality and modern classical influences going on all over prog, also in big prog acts like Yes, King Crimson and ELP. Bill Martin has a good discussion of this in his book "Listening to the Future".
    I've never met anyone actually into prog who doesn't classify Henry Cow and Soft Machine as obviously being a part of the big progressive movement - even those more into lightweight symphonic prog.

    Quote Originally Posted by gek-opel View Post
    Yes never seemed to me to be particularly alien, unlike Henry Cow say or Can who are both impressively alien in terms of the vocabularies they bring into rock.
    Can, well yeah, they're quite alien. Henry Cow... only in that they use elements foreign to rock, but those elements are not as such foreign in themselves. If you know some atonal chamber music and avant jazz, Henry Cow sounds quite familiar (and in a very good way, obvioulsy). Yes, on the other hand, sounds like nothing before.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tate View Post
    Out of curiosity, what bands do you have in mind? The drone/doom strand of Sunn0))), Khanate, Isis, Pelican, Jesu, Neurosis, etc? I'm genuinely curious, b/c my metal listening ended sometime around the release of master of puppets, though I've been checking all of the so-called newer drone metal bands much the result of dissensians' prosyletizing . . . smile . . . I don't like mastodon at all, I must say . . . was curious.

    Digression over, now back to jazz fusion, about which I hope and think that there is still very much to say.
    The people you quote are definitely the stuff in modern metal I'm most familiar with, but they're more drone/metal or post rock/metal. Actually its stuff more on the Mastodon tip that are progish. There's also a heap of post-hardcore/screamo stuff that this friend of a friend keeps playing me, and that's all very prog in its structures and technical excesses, at least as much as old school Metalica if not more so. Inevitably I find it a bit too melodically fiddly, though others may disagree.

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