Jazz Fusion History and Musicians

Jazz Fusion and 10 Fusion Pioneers

According to Allmusic Guide, until 1967 jazz and rock were separated. In the United States, electric R&B  and contemporary jazz were on opposite sides of blues centered  African-American music. Music experts highlight the British pop music that was created  by jazz musician and trombonist Chris Barber. According to wikipedia fusion guitarist John McLaughlin from South Yorkshire played what Allmusic categorizes as a version of jazz and American Rhythm & Blues with Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames Group as early as 1962. They played with specifically The Graham Bond Organization, whose style again was described as "rhythm & blues with a  jazzy flavor”

The problem with this is all of the above mentioned men were influenced by Jazz musicians like Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley and others. Additionally, people like Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock & Mr. James Brown, were already creating these new sounds.

Miles Davis was among the tip of the spear creators of not only jazz fusion but alot of the music we listen to. Consequently many of the artistic outside of America made it to the United States. During that time, the internet was non existent,  magazines and communication was limited.  

In 1967 Gary Burton collaborated with guitarist Larry Coryell and recorded Duster, which is was noted as one of the first fusion records.  Coryell was also a influencer of electric jazz during that time.

Miles Davis had a big time influence on the evolution of jazz fusion with his 1968 album Miles in the Sky. It is the first of Miles Davis' albums to include electric instruments, with Ron Carter  and the brilliant Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter playing bass guitar and electric piano. We all know the contributions of Herbie Hancock. I am taking his master class, and it is incredible!

The late great Miles Davis continued the use of instruments of the electronic nature on 1968 album, Kilimanjaro, with bassist Dave Holland and brilliant pianist Chick Corea.  Chick Corea is one of my father’s favorites. I grew up listening to Chick. Nevertheless, it’s hard to say who and when Jazz fusion songs were originally created, but it’s good to say 1960s early 70s. Davis' 1969 album In a Silent Way is considered his first fusion album and the lift off to a new genre.

Fusion began blending jazz and rock together! From jazz, fusion got its complexity and from rock, fusion got its power, authority and straightforward approach. As well as electronic instruments like electric guitars, basses, and keyboard synthesizers, rock rhythms and simple harmony.

During the same era in the overall musical landscape, I would say James Brown’s work was brilliant and brought a new outlook on sound, influencing music all over the world. Consider the rise of Afro-Beat. African Funk musician and pioneer Fela Kuti is one of my favorites! Brown’s distinct style influenced the sounds and rhythms of musicians across genres.   

Jazz Fusion while a necessary progressive move also formed as a way to capture some of the popular rock and other genres that had a wider audience. Jazz musicians wanted to relate to a large audience by giving them something they were already familiar with and mixing in some of the jazz.

10 important fusion artists include:

Miles Davis
Chick Corea
Weather Report - one my father favorites
Jaco Pastorius
George Duke
George Benson
Herbie Hankcock
Allan Holdsworth
Stanley Clark
Larry Coryell


Please feel free to make comments or suggestions. I would be honored to add anyone you feel I left out. 

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