I’d like to begin by outlining what jazz fusion is.
Fusion, also called progressive jazz, is a genre of music that incorporates elements of jazz with those of other genres, like rock, funk, etc. While the origins of jazz fusion can be traced back to the 1960s, the genre truly came into its own in the 1970s, initially in the United States and then in Europe. The emergence of Jazz Rock Fusion can be attributed to a number of factors, including the increasing popularity of rock music, the influence of James Brown‘s “groove“ style of music, and the countermovement in San Francisco.
In the wake of John Coltrane‘s death, some jazz aficionados felt that the genre was in crisis. Jazz had been evolving rapidly since its inception in the 1890s, becoming increasingly sophisticated in its use of harmony, melody, and rhythm. This evolution paralleled the slow development of European classical music. In the 1960s, some jazz musicians began experimenting with free jazz, a style that was met with confusion by many listeners.
When John Coltrane died in 1967, rock was the most popular music in America, and DownBeat magazine went so far as to declare in a headline that: “Jazz as We Know It Is Dead”
View the evolution of jazz fusion on this timeline.
Traditional jazz focuses on acoustic instruments like trumpet, trombone, saxophone, piano, guitar, and bass. But jazz fusion frequently challenges the limits of instruments by incorporating electric instruments found in progressive rock bands. Synthesizers, electric pianos, drum machines, and effects-laden electric guitars are common inclusions among jazz fusion bands.
Make an introduction to Jazz Fusion
One of the things that makes jazz fusion so great is its willingness to challenge the status quo. It’s experimental, challenging and sensational.
- Miles Davis – Bitches Brew
30 March 1970 / Jazz fusion, Avant-Garde Jazz, Jazz-Rock, Jazz-Funk
“psychedelic, instrumental, improvisation, surreal, mysterious, atmospheric”
Although Bitches Brew was innovative in many respects, its rhythmic invention may have been the most significant. Two bassists (one playing bass guitar, the other double bass), two to three drummers, two to three electric piano players, and a percussionist make up the rhythm section for this song. They all perform at the same time. As Paul Tanner, Maurice Gerow, and David Megill, explain, “like rock groups, Davis gives the rhythm section a central role in the ensemble’s activities. His use of such a large rhythm section offers the soloists wide but active expanses for their solos.”
- Herbie Hancock – Sextant
30 March 1973 / J , ,
- John McLaughlin – Devotion
July 1970 / Jazz-Rock, Jazz Fusion, Psychedelic Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Acid Rock
“warm, psychedelic, summer, complex, technical“
- Sun Ra – Lanquidity
1978 / Jazz Fusion, Avant-Garde Jazz, Jazz-Funk, Experimental Big Band
“instrumental, improvisation, mysterious,atmospheric, spiritual, surreal, hypnotic, rhythmic”
- Billy Cobham- Spectrum
1 October 1973 / Jazz Fusion, Jazz-Rock, Jazz-Funk
“energetic, instrumental, technical, playful, rhythmic, uplifting warm”
- Miles Davis- In a silent way
30 July 1969 / Jazz fusion, Modal jazz, Avant-garde jazz, Ambient
“instrumental, atmospheric, mellow, nocturnal, improvisation, mysterious, soothing, calm”
- Casiopea – Mint Jam
21 May 1982 / Jazz Fusion, Jazz-Funk, Smooth Jazz
“instrumental, happy, mellow, playful, warm, optimistic, urban, rhythmic, technical, passionate, complex, nocturnal”
- Jean-Luc Ponty – Cosmic Messenger
10 August 1978 / Jazz Fusion, Jazz-Rock Progressive Rock
“instrumental, space, improvisation, energetic”
- Chick Corea – Light as a feather
January 1973 / Jazz Fusion, Latin Jazz, Vocal Jazz, Samba-jazz
“mellow, female vocals, peaceful, passionate, energetic, soft, happy, technical”
- Weather Report – Black Market
March 1976 / Jazz Fusion, Jazz-Funk
”melodic, rhythmic, instrumental, warm, technical, playful, energetic, summer, soothing, urban”
Larry Coryell: “We loved Miles, but we also loved the Rolling Stones.”
Jazz Fusion: The perfect blend of two genres
Exploration, energy, electricity, intensity, virtuosity, and volume were highlighted by the fusion pioneers.
It is the Miles Davis the trailblazer of fusion, he’s also most influential figures in the history of jazz and 20th century music.
They collaborate together profoundly with Herbie Hancock who is one of the primary architects of the post-bop sound, for a very long time. Head Hunters, Empyrean Isles, Thrust are one each a slice of the pie.
As we have said, Miles Davis was a key figure in the creation of jazz fusion. His guitarist, John McLaughlin, left to form the Mahavishnu Orchestra, another fusion band. He designed a new aesthetic by combining jazz, psychedelic rock, and Indian classical music. McLaughlin was particularly impressed by Jimi Hendrix, despite having collaborated with Miles Davis.
Chick Corea, a pianist, formed the jazz fusion band Return to Forever in 1972, which is frequently mentioned as one of the main bands of the jazz fusion movement of the 1970s, along with Weather Report, The Headhunters, and Mahavishnu Orchestra.
– A fan art for Herbie Hancock:
— Herbie Hancock (@herbiehancock) February 27, 2020
In summary, jazz-rock encouraged the dissolution of musical boundaries, introduced the use of electronic instruments, and added fresh harmonic and structural components. These genres all have the expansiveness and integration of jazz-rock.
Here are some desirable articles to find out a little more about the history of jazz, in your favor;