Author Topic: The (((Modern))) Jazz-Fusion Thread  (Read 309 times)

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Offline darkshade

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The (((Modern))) Jazz-Fusion Thread
« on: April 11, 2021, 08:43:12 AM »
There is a Jazz thread here, but I wanted to have a thread that focuses on Jazz-Fusion, particularly modern albums. There is plenty of room for discussion of contemporary jazz in the other thread, this specific topic can lead to music that might not otherwise be considered 'jazz'. Jazz-fusion tends to be disliked by "jazz purists" or is liked because "it's not just jazz". But the definition of jazz is surely at question when jazz-fusion comes up, along with other later styles of jazz. Fusion, for short, we'll be talking about jazz-rock, progressive jazz/rock, jazz-funk, progressive Latin jazz, or any jazz music that experiments with electronics in this thread. This isn't the thread for smooth jazz or pop-jazz, though there is sometimes overlapping between the styles.

So what is considered "modern" in the context of jazz-fusion?
I think it's obvious we're talking about post-1970s, but also, I think, post-1980s as well. Really anything released since roughly 1995, as I think since around that time, jazz recordings have less 80s production values. Later recordings also present new sounds, or old retro sounds in better sonic quality. 1995 is not a strict cut off, of course. I can think of some early 90s albums that sound great and sound 'modern'.

What is 'jazz-fusion' in the modern era?
It can be progressive, mixing or combining elements of rock, funk, world music, folk music, electronic music, hip-hop, metal, bluegrass, or whatever is pushing the boundaries of jazz, in new ways (of course, there is progressive jazz which doesn't fit under the 'fusion' tag.)
It can be 'retro', playing classic 70s-style jazz-fusion (or 80s perhaps) but with modern production values.
It can be a fusion of both progressive and retro sounds.

I'm hoping to find some new discoveries in this thread. Please feel free to contribute. I'm going to list 1-2 albums at a time, to highlight them.

I'll start of with a recent album by Steve Gadd and the late Chick Corea: Chinese Butterfly (2018)


Fantastic album from start to finish. When you see an electric guitar on the album cover, I don't think you should expect post-bop or things of the sort.

Opening with everything you could want in a new jazz-fusion album. Blazing synths, bombastic drumming from the great Steve Gadd, tight funky bass, stacked electric piano chords. Some excellent acoustic piano from Chick as well here and there. The album also has a world music slant thanks to guitarist Lionel Loueke and percussionist Luisito Quintero. Chick himslf also incorporates a Latin jazz styling as he tends to do. There are some horns but mostly some appearance of flute by Steve Wilson (no, not that Steve Wilson) to add some color, but the feature is on Chick's keyboard work, and of course Gadd's drums, in this amazing band. Those who can't imagine an 80 year old Jordan Rudess playing all the things he does, listen to this album. Chick died this year at 79 and this album came out a couple of years ago, and his playing his better than when he was in his 20s and 30s, in my opinion. I actually feel like Chick's playing has been on fire for the last decade and a half. Such a major loss to the world of jazz.

The title track from Chick's 1972 release 'Return to Forever" is performed on this album, and a great rendition it is (maybe not as good as the original, but holds up well against it.) The 2nd disc is definitely the slightly more exploratory disc, but still retaining the high energy of the first. This was a surprise release for me, I only checked this album out recently after holding off on getting it for a while. It's proggy, but it isn't tied down to one style. Definitely one of the more enjoyable releases from Chick throughout his whole career.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2021, 01:24:56 PM by darkshade »

Offline Ben_Jamin

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Re: The (((Modern))) Jazz-Fusion Thread
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2021, 11:16:19 AM »
Nice thread topic...


I'll add

Bela Fleck and The Flecktones

Outbound (2000)



This album, and the band in general, is a great blend of Jazz, Folk, and Bluegrass. All a blend of Bela Fleck, Victor Wooten (Main reason why I even listened to these guys), and Roy "Future Man" Wooten. This album has some nice vocal moments featuring Jon Anderson, Shawn Colvin and Rita Sahai.

Favorite Tracks:
Something She Said
Earth Jam
Aimum
That Old Thing
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Offline darkshade

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Re: The (((Modern))) Jazz-Fusion Thread
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2021, 01:17:09 PM »
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones have a few albums I would consider for this thread. Their most recent album from 2011 "Rocket Science" saw a reunion of the old lineup. That lineup existed during the transition from the 80s studio pastiche to modern production values, so some of the drum sounds on those first couple of albums have that old digital drum sound, but they're great albums, and were quite innovative for the time period. Unfortunately, while they released some great music since, they didn't sound the same after Howard Levy left, but their albums definitely sounded better from a production standpoint, around the time of Three Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. What's great about Rocket Science is it has the older style and feel the band used to have, due to Levy rejoining the band, but was recorded only 10 years ago, and sounds wonderful, One of their best albums.



Chick and Fleck recorded two albums together, and Chick appears on The Flecktones' live album, "Live Art".
Victor Wooten also filled in on bass for the Chick Corea Elektric Band a few years ago, not sure if there's a recording out there, I'd love to hear it.

Offline Ben_Jamin

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Re: The (((Modern))) Jazz-Fusion Thread
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2021, 01:47:16 PM »
I'd love to hear that as well...

I actually need to listen to more of Chick Corea and the other Bela Fleck and The Flecktones albums. I have heard some of Rocket Science, once. From what I remember, it was good.


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Offline SoundscapeMN

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Re: The (((Modern))) Jazz-Fusion Thread
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2021, 05:29:58 PM »
there's a lot of artists that I would consider myself a fan of that have "modern" jazz albums, or albums released since 1990:

Pat Metheny
Tigran Hamasayan
Hiromi
The Pneumatic Transit
Dean Magraw (especially his Red Planet band)
Negroni's Trio
Media Addicts
The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra
Screaming Headless Torsos
Jazzkamikaze
Esperazana Spalding
Umi
Put Down the Muffin
Poncho Sanchez
Rachel Z
Mike Linden/The Super Pilots

Offline darkshade

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Re: The (((Modern))) Jazz-Fusion Thread
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2021, 08:55:20 AM »
Pat Metheny is another good choice. He has a lot of albums and has released a lot in the last 30 years (and has a discography going back nearly 50 years) and there are a few albums I want to talk about, including some recent albums, but first:

To my ears, Pat Metheny (and Lyle Mays, co-writer of all the Pat Metheny Group music) were always ahead of their time, even if some of their stuff 'clearly' came out of the 70s or 80s. Having said that, the first "modern" album in Pat's discography is his solo album with Dave Holland and Roy Haynes, "Question & Answer" (1990) the production is amazing, you'd never guess it was recorded at the very tail end of the 1980s. That album, however, is not a fusion album, more of a post-bop album with some mild electronics mixed in on some tracks.

It's on the next album, "Secret Story" (1992), where we see the breadth of experience Pat Metheny had gained up until that point, as the music seems to incorporate a lot of what he was doing with the Pat Metheny Group at the time, Lyle Mays even shows up on a few tracks, along with other musicians Pat had performed and/or recorded with prior to this album. The music also seems to be looking ahead, bringing in more progressive and classical elements into the music not heard in Metheny's music before, and the production was light years ahead of the albums released just a few years prior. Frank Zappa was also putting out high quality recordings during this time as well, both artists were always ahead of the curve in regards to technology, equipment, and instrumentation. Don't get me wrong, Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays' albums from the 80s sound incredible, especially for the time period, but Secret Story sounds so clear, the drums are crisp, and Pat himself had developed a new clean tone that was basically the best he ever sounded. This album sounds like it was recorded yesterday, it is quite amazing.

As for the music itself, as alluded to before, this is progressive in the sense of taking what had come before, and doing new things with it. This is also one of Pat's most dramatic albums, especially towards the last few tracks on the album. This album also goes beyond "jazz" this is music that cannot be pinned down to any specific genre, even if "jazz" is the most prominent. There aren't a lot of jazz albums that can make me feel joy and happiness on tracks like Facing West and Sunlight, intrigue me with Finding and Believing, and See The World, then turn around and make me shed a tear on tracks like The Truth Will Always Be because it is just so powerful, and the follow up track Tell Her You Saw Me which is just the sound of a heart being broken. The album ends on a sad note, but if you have the 2007 remaster, it comes with a bonus disc, and the bonus tracks, which were tunes that did not make the album originally, do leave things on a more uplifting note. I have both the original and the remaster, and I think the remaster sounds a little too hot, and the original has better overall sound since the mix was touched up a bit. Both are worth having if you are a Pat Metheny fan.

To me, this album bridges the 80s fusion era with the 90s and beyond.

1992 original


2007 special edition
« Last Edit: April 12, 2021, 09:21:14 AM by darkshade »

Offline darkshade

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Re: The (((Modern))) Jazz-Fusion Thread
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2021, 11:10:37 AM »
Hiromi Uehara is a another great selection. One of the great new millennium jazz artists. One of my favorites as well. She's only released two jazz-fusion albums, both with her band Sonicbloom.

Her first few albums, which were released under 'Hiromi', are more post-fusion contemporary in sound, with only a few select tracks I would classify as "jazz-fusion". All 3 are great modern jazz albums, so I recommend checking them out. If you've heard Robert Glasper's first album "Canvas" that gives you an idea of what the majority of the music sounds like, but Hiromi has a certain sound to her playing that few have. That sound that when you hear it, you know exactly who it is, much like any of the greats of the last quarter of the 20th Century. It is beyond what notes or chords are being playing, or what influences the artist may have, but who is playing those notes and chords in those ways.

Next was the Sonicbloom era, the band features the underrated Dave 'Fuze' Fiuczynski on guitar, an insane guitarists who plays with microtones and uses a fretless guitar, along with Tony Grey on bass and Martin Valihora on drums, both of whom were on much of Hiromi's first 3 albums. The band's first album, Time Control (2007) is filled with wild acoustic and electric piano, and bouncy snyths, slick, understated bass, pumping drums, and the Fuze playing some earth shattering lead guitar lines. However, there is also the more restrained, inward music that touches your soul. I actually think this is one of the more original albums of the last 20 years, and has a fire energy that is not found on a lot of modern jazz in general.

The band released a follow up to Time Control, but it doesn't quite reach the highs of TC, still a good album and worth having. The band is a great band and I hope they reunite and release a 3rd album.

After this lineup came Hiromi's Trio Project, with Hiromi on acoustic piano Anthony Jackson on bass and Simon Phillips on drums. They've released 4 albums. These albums are not fusion albums, but are some great jazz albums. She's also put out a couple of solo piano albums, a duet album with Chick Corea; has played on a couple of Stanley Clarke albums, and appears on a few live albums with other artists, but no other fusion albums, unfortunately.


Offline darkshade

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Re: The (((Modern))) Jazz-Fusion Thread
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2021, 04:33:13 PM »
Speaking of Simon Phillips, he also appears on albums by a guy you all may have heard of: Derek Sherinian.
Derek's solo albums have generally been along the lines of mostly instrumental prog-metal but Derek's style
is very jazzy so some of that comes out a bit on his albums. With his band Planet X, the jazz and the prog
metal are equals. They only released 3 albums, and I think the 2nd and 3rd albums are the best.
I particularly keen on the 2nd album Moonbabies (2002) the most. This is one of the best Dream Theater
related albums out there, and for good reason. every track is just a powerhouse tune. It's definitely not 70s style
fusion album, and more of a middle finger to Dream Theater at the time by DS, going where DT were 'afraid' to go,
so to speak. I almost agree, as I think DT never quite tapped into their jazzy potential during the 90s into the 00s.



but wait... there's more!

Derek's solo album Oceana (2011) is an album he did that is a bit different than
his usual solo albums. Here, he really injects that 70s Jeff Beck fusion style into his sound,
and the results are fantastic. I think this is his best solo album besides his first album titled Planet X.

This album is the closest he's gotten to a classic jazz-fusion album. Love it from start to finish.


Offline ProfessorPeart

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Re: The (((Modern))) Jazz-Fusion Thread
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2021, 10:22:05 PM »
I am a huge Frank Gambale fan. My favorite album of his is this one from 2000:



His albums with Steve Smith and Stu Hamm are pretty darn good as well.
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Offline wolfking

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Re: The (((Modern))) Jazz-Fusion Thread
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2021, 10:45:45 PM »
Frank Gambale is a monster.

Offline HOF

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Re: The (((Modern))) Jazz-Fusion Thread
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2021, 10:46:51 PM »
I am a huge Frank Gambale fan. My favorite album of his is this one from 2000:



His albums with Steve Smith and Stu Hamm are pretty darn good as well.

Frank Gambale is a monster.

Not really a jazz fusion album at all (more of a blues rock thing), but have you guys heard the Big Franklin album that Gambale did? I only ask because there was one really great song on it, "Take Me To The Fire" that got some radio play where I lived back in the late 90s that my brother and I loved. Recently I was trying to remember who sang it and all I could remember was that the guitarist was one of the bigger guitar figures in the fusion world. We finally figured it out, but it's like the band and release were scrubbed from existence. It's not on his Wikipedia or the discography on his website, nothing on Youtube. It is on Spotify though (which is where we finally found it after we remembered the band name).

I say that it's on Spotify. There's a page for it but you can't play it (or I can't for some reason): https://open.spotify.com/album/6dbkBVkHoEAXEyNRgZqsuw

Offline darkshade

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Re: The (((Modern))) Jazz-Fusion Thread
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2021, 05:53:02 AM »
I've not checked out Gambale's albums, been meaning to lately after going through the Chick Corea Elektric Band albums recently. He's also in the band Vital Information.

Offline darkshade

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Re: The (((Modern))) Jazz-Fusion Thread
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2021, 02:20:02 PM »
Liquid Tension Experiment have hit it out of the park once again with their new release Liquid Tension Experiment 3 (2021)
LTE is probably on the edge of the scope of this thread, but they have street cred. Jordan played with Tony Williams and Jan Hammer before joining DT/LTE.
The new album contains a bonus disc, the music on there is a little closer to the main topic of this thread.
Some really nice jazzy prog-jam stuff here, Jordan even busts out the electric piano on one of the tracks. Good stuff.


Offline romdrums

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Re: The (((Modern))) Jazz-Fusion Thread
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2021, 02:47:17 PM »


Found this album earlier this year, and it slams!  There's is a really cool melting pot of influences.  I hear 70's King Crimson in places, Mahavishnu in others, and some hints of Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects.  Really, really good stuff.
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Offline SoundscapeMN

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Re: The (((Modern))) Jazz-Fusion Thread
« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2021, 07:47:29 PM »
new The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra album "Flirting With Chaos" just came out a couple of weeks ago.

there's a nice one titled "Woodshred"..also a cover of 21st Century Schizoid Man.

https://thegco.bandcamp.com/album/flirting-with-chaos?fbclid=IwAR00BsNsWsehpvRtvx8syCa2jopJFW1Y-hpgXZX-sLoasVqYdXXLTnSJe6E


Offline darkshade

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Re: The (((Modern))) Jazz-Fusion Thread
« Reply #15 on: May 15, 2021, 08:30:55 AM »
Antonio Sanchez & Migration - The Meridian Suite (2015) is probably the drummer's best album so far. It is dense, prog-jazz with odd time signatures and incredible drumming by Sanchez. Highly recommended for anyone who likes progressive electric jazz with different movements.

Offline LudwigVan

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Re: The (((Modern))) Jazz-Fusion Thread
« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2021, 04:16:06 PM »
Iím an old fogey so maybe my attitude reflects that. I donít really get the distinction between jazz fusion and Ďmoderní jazz fusion.

I listen to Weather Report and Jean Luc Ponty, which are both steeped in the 70s and 80s, but I donít understand why they wouldnít be considered modern jazz fusion, because to my ears, they are. Is it really simply a matter of production?
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Offline darkshade

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Re: The (((Modern))) Jazz-Fusion Thread
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2021, 12:30:27 PM »
Modern just means jazz-fusion recorded since the 80s. When the topic of jazz-fusion comes up, albums released in the 60s, 70s, and 80s dominate the discussion, particularly the golden era (70s) albums and bands. Jazz-fusion has a parallel history with progressive rock, but I feel like there is much to be explored in recent decades. Mainly sticking with albums recorded and released since the mid-90s, more or less. There are definitely albums recorded before the 90s that have great production values or is way ahead of their time, but the point of this thread is just to highlight great jazz-fusion albums from recent years.

Offline ytserush

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Re: The (((Modern))) Jazz-Fusion Thread
« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2021, 07:05:12 PM »
Antonio Sanchez & Migration - The Meridian Suite (2015) is probably the drummer's best album so far. It is dense, prog-jazz with odd time signatures and incredible drumming by Sanchez. Highly recommended for anyone who likes progressive electric jazz with different movements.


Sounds like I need to get this.

Offline darkshade

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Re: The (((Modern))) Jazz-Fusion Thread
« Reply #19 on: June 01, 2021, 09:33:36 AM »
It is very good. Reminds me of Pat Metheny Group's The Way Up album.



Another album with Sanchez is this album that came out last year.
Trio Grande (2020)


I've only listened a couple of times, so I don't know the music well but it's pretty good with a lot of variety in sounds and styles. There's some nods to John Scofield, Caribbean music, and heavy usage of electric guitar and electric pianos.