Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Jazz fusion (sometimes referred to simply as fusion) is a musical genre that loosely encompasses the merging of jazz with other styles, particularly rock, funk, R&B, and world music. It basically involved jazz musicians mixing the forms and techniques of jazz with the electric instruments of rock, and rhythmic structure from African-American popular music, both "soul" and "rhythm and blues".
It is debatable whether jazz fusion is actually a coherent musical style or not. Many fusion records sound completely different compared to each other. What connects them, is that they are made by jazz musicians who try to combine their improvisation skills (and some other elements of jazz) with some style of pop music or/and ethnic music.
Fusion had its roots in the late 1960s work of Miles Davis and then Tony Williams Lifetime. Later developments in the 1970s established jazz artists such as Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, Larry Coryell, Weather Report, Jean-Luc Ponty and Jeremy Steig as a viable commercial influence. Bands using instruments such as electric guitar, bass guitar, and electric piano. Shortly, others began incorporating synthesizers such as the minimoog joining forces with more avant garde players who had also begun incorporating electronic sound in the wake of the "classical" avant garde.
At the same time, rock and African-American popular musicians had begun moving beyond the short "radio single" song format and incorporating elements of jazz-like extended instrumental improvisation. Two of Miles Davis' biggest inspirations as he moved into his fusion period were the tight grooves and intricate solos of Jimi Hendrix and Sly & The Family Stone. Michael Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield, both young white blues musicians, recorded extended versions of Adderley's "Work Song" and a modal improvisation titled "East/West" as early as 1966-67; other groups, particlarly those based in San Francisco (Santana, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane) and in the U.K. (Cream, King Crimson, Pink Floyd) also performed, and eventually recorded, both extended improvisations on short song forms, and longer, multipart compositions.
Jazz artists, in the wake of developments in pop music, also began using the recording studio, with improved editing, multitrack recording, and electronic effects capability, as a adjunct to actual composition and improvisation. Davis' In a Silent Way and Bitches' Brew, (cornerstone recordings of the genre) for instance, feature "extended" (more than 20 minutes each) compositions which were never actually "played" straight through by the musicians in the studio; instead, musical motifs of various lengths were selected from recorded extended improvisations, and edited together into a musical whole which only exists in the recorded version.
Newer artists, such as Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul and Pat Metheny also became involved in the developing scene. Musical barriers broke down further (to the continued horror of jazz purists) as musicians who had first established themselves as rock artists such as Jeff Beck began to experiment with the fusion form.
While jazz fusion is criticised in some quarters for being a watering down of more conventional swing-based jazz for pop audiences, while criticised in others for being pretentious or too concerned with musical virtuosity, it has helped to break down boundaries between different genres and led to developments such as acid jazz. For the most part the genre has been subsumed into other branches of jazz and rock, but some traces of the form remain. In late 1970s pop music was becoming more commercialized. In jazz fusion, this trend was seen as an arrival of more commercial and "soft" recordings. Bob James is a main representative of this movement.
Notable artists and albums
- Casiopea: Eyes Of The Mind , Make Up City
- Carla Bley: Escalator Over The Hill
- Chick Corea: Return to Forever , My Spanish Heart, Electric Band, Inside Out
- Mahavishnu Orchestra: Birds of Fire, Inner Mounting Flame
- Miles Davis: Bitches Brew, In A Silent Way , Live At Filmore , Pangea , Tribute to Jack Johnson
- Herbie Hancock: Crossings , Head Hunters
- Allan Holdsworth: Secrets
- Manteca: Perfect Foot
- Pat Metheny Group: American Garage, First Circle, Still Life (Talking) , We Live Here , Imaginary Day
- Santana: Caravanserai, Welcome, Amigos
- The Shuffle Demons: Streetniks
- Return to Forever: Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy, No Mystery, Romantic Warrior
- Skywalk : Silent Witness
- Soft Machine: Third
- Spyro Gyra: Morning Dance
- Jeremy Steig: Something Else
- Miroslav Vitous: Mountain in The Clouds also released as Infinite Search
- Tony Williams: Lifetime, Emergency!
- Uzeb: Noisy Nights
- Weather Report: Heavy Weather, I Sing The Body Electric
- Frank Zappa: Sleep Dirt
- Joe Zawinul: Zawninul
- Lee Ritenour
- Billy Cobham: Spectrum
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