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

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    Default Was jazz-fusion a dead end music genre?

    Fusion just seems like the classic example of a "progressive" style that was supposed to open new doors for music, but ultimately it just killed what was left of jazz and maybe influenced a bit of prog rock before punk killed that off.

    It was way too technical for almost everyone except jazz students and prog nerds, and it wasn't rocking enough for rock fans or swinging enough for old school jazz fans. I don't even consider it jazz really, always thought of it more as prog made by Miles Davis alumni.

    I'm not trying to totally write it all off, I just don't think it had a very influencial legacy in the long run. 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?

    And I've heard a lot of jazz-funk sampled but not much fusion. Maybe I'm just not recognizing it.

    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...

    Well, off to work, I'll check back later...

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    Recommending...

    Steve Coleman makes some of the most unique music I have ever heard. I would describe it as extremely intelligent, conceptual, modern funk jazz. Although some 'fusion' music makes compromises in order to come together, this does not. Steve Coleman has been doing his thing for years and this music and this band is VERY tight, real, and highly evolved.

    Imagine James Brown's band jamming in some inner city nightclub. Whilst getting 'funky', a mummy walks in and starts expanding their minds with some trippy ancient Egyptian philosophical concepts. Then Einstein comes in to help them apply these ideas to their music. Suddenly the drummer is playing in 9/8 time, the bassist in 7/8 and the pianist in 3.5/6. Charlie Parker walks in and hears this crazy-mad funk, pulls out his horn and starts to blow... That kinda describes just some of Coleman's Five Elements stuff.

    Also check Tale of 3 Cities – Best rap/jazz hybrid ever. TIGHT grooves and rapping.

    and The Sign and the Seal – sublime afro-cuban beauty.

    Anybody else dig this cat???

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    I've been on a big fusion kick recently. I've been loving Tony Williams Lifetime - Emergency and the usual Miles alumni stuff. I would also love to hear some recommendations. And some hate if you are so inclined!

    I dunno if it was ever meant to 'open new doors' in the way that Prog-heads thought they were doing. I always get the sense with fusion that the musicians just really have a lot of fun playing it. I see it as pretty much a natural progression from jazz. Just people playing their instruments and banging out some fresh grooves.

    As far as modern counterparts go, what about Post Rock? It 'feels' the same to me - very little non-music baggage associated with the genre, just some musicians playing what they feel.

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    The "pushing forward" thing implied by the name of prog rock has always puzzled me, as in reality most settled for crafting a simply slightly different version of rock, (that perhaps they perceived as somehow being an improved version) but one with defined parameters, rather than a never ending revolution in sound. You could posit Krautrock as better representing that, but would he bands have self-defined themselves as "prog rock"? Also post punk appeared to have a much more clearly defined sense of deliberately pushing at boundaries (esp stuff like This Heat, say)

    The thing with post rock is that it was a somewhat useful genre handle that was spun out of its more sense-making original meaning (ie- Disco Inferno really do sound post-rock, don't they?) to cover a variety of not-that-linked instrumental music.

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    How much prog have you actually heard, gek? Your idea of it sounds just like the usual myths and prejudices. Prog was so many different things, and a lot of it sounded nothing like rock at all and was definitely opening doors. Again and again I'm surprised how much Yes sounds like a hippe version of post punk - brittle, scratchy guitars and weirdly bouncing avant funk grooves.

    As for post rock, it's basically prog with all the things that made prog fun and/or exciting taken out of it.

    As for fusion, what's the difference between jazz-funk and jazz-fusion exactly? Why isn't jazz-funk fusion?

    And as for recommendations: I've always found Ornette Colemans "Body Meta" great. Is that fusion?

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    Quote Originally Posted by hamarplazt View Post
    As for fusion, what's the difference between jazz-funk and jazz-fusion exactly? Why isn't jazz-funk fusion?
    I thought "fusion" was another term for jazz-rock, with jazz-funk being a different beast. I'd be nice to get that sorted out.

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    I've heard most of the "classic" prog acts, I think, probably not many of the more obscure global prog stuff that Woebot proselytises about. I think if memory serves correct I quite liked the more horrible end of King Crimson, and the rest, well a lot of it is neo-bucolic, and that fails to resonate in any way shape or form. Or is simply stymied by terrible vocals. What I was attempting to get at was that whilst it was different from rock and roll as it was before in the 50s or 60s say, it quickly ossified into simply another set of conventions, thereby belying the "progressive" descriptor, which would seem to indicate a constant shifting of musical goals, rather than a short period of expansion then ossification into replication of cliche. Of course if you classify Krautrock as "prog", then I would be more in agreement with your view of things, but in the UK sense of the big Prog groups, I think a lot of them simply missed the point. Too many notes, a lot of the time, and too little attention to texture, or to complexity inside the lyrical perspective (which like the music is a bloated version of rock, rather than a genuine shift)

    What I want to know from those in the know is whether the prog rockers in the early 70s actually believed they were pushing at the edges of the possible?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gek-opel View Post
    I've heard most of the "classic" prog acts, I think, probably not many of the more obscure global prog stuff that Woebot proselytises about. I think if memory serves correct I quite liked the more horrible end of King Crimson, and the rest, well a lot of it is neo-bucolic, and that fails to resonate in any way shape or form. Or is simply stymied by terrible vocals. What I was attempting to get at was that whilst it was different from rock and roll as it was before in the 50s or 60s say, it quickly ossified into simply another set of conventions, thereby belying the "progressive" descriptor, which would seem to indicate a constant shifting of musical goals, rather than a short period of expansion then ossification into replication of cliche. Of course if you classify Krautrock as "prog", then I would be more in agreement with your view of things, but in the UK sense of the big Prog groups, I think a lot of them simply missed the point. Too many notes, a lot of the time, and too little attention to texture, or to complexity inside the lyrical perspective (which like the music is a bloated version of rock, rather than a genuine shift)
    Well, how long ago is it that you heard most of the "classic" prog acts? And how much did you actually listen to them? Groups like, say, Yes, King Crimson, Magma, Henry Cow, and Soft Machine (fusion?) didn't share any set of musical conventions (each developed their own over a series of albums) and certainly changed a lot throughout their careers. Rather than ossification, most prog acts returned to more straight rock when the times changed in the late seventies. And that's certainly not progressing, but at that time, none of them would claim it was. Earlier, I guess some of them would, but I'm not sure how many.

    Neo-bucolic: That's actually only a few of them, usually the more folk-influenced. Don't let Yes-covers decieve you, they've made some of the most alien, futuristic anti-rock ever.

    Too many notes: That's certainly the old punk myth talking. It might be the case with some names, but most of the time there's simply as many notes as the music needs. Somtimes that's not many, and sometimes it's a lot, but is many notes by definition wrong? Are there too many snares on "Renegade Snares"?

    I do consider a lot of krautrock prog, but still, I'd like to hear what krautrockers you think had constantly shifting goals? Most of them had a particular vision that they followed in a very logical and straightforward way, just like most proggers. And in both cases, some where better at staying on that road than others. The same goes for post punk, I think.

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    True enough, the idea of constant musical revolution is nigh on impossible for an individual act to pursue. I've absolutely no problem with Art-rock in its broadest sense, but fiddliness in terms of melodic structure in any music is a massive turn off. 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.

    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.

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    YES is simply the best rock band of all time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Don Rosco View Post
    I've been on a big fusion kick recently. I've been loving Tony Williams Lifetime - Emergency and the usual Miles alumni stuff.
    The song "Emergency" is SO sick...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Don Rosco View Post
    I've been on a big fusion kick recently. I've been loving Tony Williams Lifetime - Emergency and the usual Miles alumni stuff. I would also love to hear some recommendations. And some hate if you are so inclined!
    First, yes, it was a dead end, but dead end are very interesting.

    Some reccomendation just out of my head.
    If you love Miles electric but not interested in simple copycat then try first ECM album by Terje Rypdal (untitled), just imagine a Jack johnson played by Ash Ra Tempel, one of my fave albums of all time.
    If you love Emergency ('turn it over' also is not bad) then John McLaughing Devotion is a beast (heavy metal fusion), and Young 'lawrence of newmark' (sorry if the title is not exact) a must listen. Mahawisnu Orchesta first, Inner mountain flame, is in my opinion very good but also very near the muso dead end. I like it but avoid others MO albums.
    The electric Hancock is essentia: Mwandishi, Sextant and Thrust, but expecially Julian Preister 'love, love', Eddie Henderson’s Realization and Inside Out.
    Also Joe Henderson '70 works.
    Ornette Coleman 'dancing in youe head' is above description, so wonderful.
    I never liked Weather Report that much, sad Shorter and Zawinul became so formulaic.
    Avoid like a plague almost everything after 1975!!

    then this comp compiled by Kevin Martin that was my introduction to Electified Jazz is still a must and you can find used easily and not too pricey (exception: some idiot who try to sell his copy on amazon usa for 250 dollars!!!!)

    Jazz Setellites Electification http://www.discogs.com/release/506295

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    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...
    Last edited by Chris; 17-11-2006 at 12:31 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    Any good album recommendations?
    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.

    Billy Cobham -- Spectrum...drum magic.

    Herbie Hancock -- Sextant...always thought the track "Rain Dance" was like a proto-Aphex Twin.

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    ...and the two Jeff Beck albums: "Blow by Blow" (the more laid back) and "Wired" (the hotter one). Also recall some good bits by Stanley Clark but never bought hi records.

    I haven't heard any of this stuff in ages, could sound crap today but it all killed back when it was new. Then agagin, maybe I was just young/impressionable/naive.

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