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7

Avant Garde/Free Jazz; Fusion (1960 - 1990)

footnotes

10. all styles of jazz from Dixieland to contemporary are still being performed and recorded today; all style dates given are approximations of when each respective style came to the forefront of jazz and experienced its most concentrated development; of course, styles and dates overlap

11. IHJ = selection is found on Willie Hill’s The Instrumental History of Jazz; Web = selection is found on the Monk Institute Jazz in America National Curriculum web site (www.jazzinamerica.org)

12. IHJ = selection is found on Willie Hill’s The Instrumental History of Jazz; Web = selection is found on the Monk Institute Jazz in America National Curriculum web site (www.jazzinamerica.org)

II. Fusion (1969-1990)

jazz images 1

electric bass

jazz images 2

electric piano

jazz images 3

Jaco Pastorius

jazz images 4

electric guitar


A. Jazz musicians fuse jazz and rock

      

1.

as a result of the rapid maturation of rock through the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and others in the 1960s, jazz and rock were ripe for a merger 

      

2.

fusion experienced jazz musicians experimenting with electronic instruments (e.g., electric guitars, electric basses, electronic keyboard synthesizers, etc.), rock rhythms, long vamps, and rock riffs 

      

3.

fusion basically fused the sophistication and virtuosity of jazz with the raw power and emotion of rock 


B. Reaction to Free Jazz

      

1.

many jazz musicians resented the “art-for-art’s-sake” attitude of Free Jazz players, accusing them of alienating jazz audiences with music that was relevant only to a special few 

      

2.

Fusion appealed to a broader spectrum of tastes, bringing to jazz a popularity not witnessed since the Swing era 

      

3.

generally speaking, Free Jazz ignored its audience (“art-for-art’s-sake); Fusion strived to reach and affect its audience 

      

4.

Free jazz was “cerebral;” Fusion, borrowing from rock’s raw energy, was also “physical” 

      

5.

Free jazz was acoustic, Fusion was electric 

      

6.

Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew was the landmark album that launched Fusion 


C. Performance Practices

      

1.

the size and instrumentation of Fusion groups varied, combining jazz and rock instruments; group size and instrumentation would often change from composition to composition 

            

a.

jazz instruments: trumpet, saxophone, acoustic (upright) bass 

            

b.

rock instruments: electric guitar, electric bass, electronic keyboard synthesizers 

      

2.

Fusion groups often employed multiple electronic keyboard players and percussionists (playing a wide variety of percussion instruments, e.g., congas, bongos, shakers, cymbals, etc.) 

      

3.

Fusion groups utilized amplification, synthesizers, reverb, distortion effects, and other electronic devices 

      

4.

Fusion groups were characterized by collective improvisation, high energy, heavy drama, extended (long) compositions/performances 

      

5.

Fusion repertoire consisted of almost exclusively original material (written specifically for/by the particular group recording/performing it) 


D. Important figures

      

1.

Miles Davis, trumpet (1926-1991) watch video Miles Davis playing Bitches Brew (1969) 

      

2.

Weather Report, led by keyboardist Josef Zawinul and tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter watch video Weather Report playing Black Market (1978) 

      

3.

Tony Williams LIfetime, led by drummer Tony Williams (1945-1997) watch video Tony Williams playing a Drum Solo (1972) 

      

4.

Michael and Randy Brecker watch video Brecker Brothers playing Some Skunk Funk (1992) 

      

5.

Herbie Hancock, piano and electric keyboards (b. 1940) watch video Herbie Hancock playing Chameleon (1974) 

      

6.

Chick Corea, piano and electric keyboards (b. 1940) watch video Chick Corea Elektric Band playing Light Years (1987) 

      

7.

John McLaughlin, guitar (b. 1942) watch video John McLaughlin and Mahavishnu Orchestra playing You Know You Know (1972) 

      

8.

Jaco Pastorius, electric bass (1951-1987) watch video Jaco Pastorus playing The Chicken (1982) 


E. Listening Examples

   

"Birdland," Weather Report (IHJ), and/or "The Spin," Yellow Jackets (IHJ), and/or "Chameleon," Herbie Hancock (Web)11 

Audio Snippets

speakerspacer Chameleon - Herbie Hancock


F. Besides rock

   

Fusion combined jazz with musical elements from such styles as funk,soul, and especially, Latin music; play Salsa Caliente, Tito Puente (Web) 

Audio Snippets

speakerspacer Salsa Caliente - Tito Puente and his Latin Ensemble


G. Pop/Contemporary Jazz (1970-today)

   

aka “Smooth Jazz”  

      

1.

a simpler, more “listenable” commercial style of jazz 

      

2.

fuses jazz with black popular song, blues, rhythm and blues, soul, funk, rock, Latin, and gospel music 

      

3.

main focus: to sell recordings 

      

4.

jazz musicians “crossing over” into the pop field is nothing new (e.g., Louis Armstrong was a huge commercial and pop music success) 

      

5.

while many jazz purists object to Pop/Contemporary Jazz even being called jazz, the philosophy of jazz has usually been one of inclusiveness, not exclusivity (jazz has torn down barriers, not put them up) 

      

6.

many Pop/Contemporary Jazz artists are often excellent straight-ahead jazz (i.e., Hard Bop) players as well, performing and recording “smooth jazz’ to supplement their income (e.g., George Benson is one of the greatest straight ahead jazz guitarists of all time) 

      

7.

while less sophisticated than Hard Bop, Free Jazz, or Fusion, Pop/Contemporary Jazz is filled with a fresh light rhythmic buoyancy, offering “feel good” emotional content to its listener (music does not have to be sophisticated to be good) 

      

8.

Important Figures 

            

a.

George Benson, guitar (b. 1943) watch video George Benson playing On Broadway (1998) 

            

b.

Dave Grusin, piano and electric keyboards (b. 1934) watch video Dave Grusin playing Mountain Dance 

            

c.

David Sanborn, alto saxophone (b. 1945) watch video David Sanborn playing The Dream (1992) 

            

d.

Spyro Gyra, led by saxophonist Jay Beckenstein (b. 1951) watch video Spyro Gyra playing Nu Sungo (2004) 

            

e.

Grover Washington, tenor, alto, and soprano saxophones (1943-1999) watch video Grover Washington playing Winelight (1981) 

      

9.

play "Morning Dance," Spyro Gyra (IHJ), and/or "Breezin’," George Benson (IHJ), and/or "Mountain Dance," Dave Grusin (IHJ), and/or "Mister Magic," Grover Washington (IHJ), and/or "Change of Heart," David Sanborn (Web)12 

      

10.

inform students that if anyone happens to own a favorite jazz CD that they would like to share with the class, he/she should bring it to the final session 

Audio Snippets

speakerspacer Change Of Heart - David Sanborn

Video Clips

videospacer Miles Davis - Bitches Brew
videospacer Weather Report - Black Market
videospacer Tony Williams - Drum Solo
videospacer Brecker Brothers - Some Skunk Funk
videospacer Herbie Hancock - Chameleon
videospacer Chick Corea Elektric Band - Light Years
videospacer John McLaughlin and Mahavishnu Orchestra - You Know You Know
videospacer Jaco Pastorius - The Chicken
videospacer George Benson- On Broadway
videospacer Dave Grusin- Mountain Dance
videospacer David Sanborn - The Dream
videospacer Spyro Gyra - Nu Sungo
videospacer Grover Washington - Winelight
the thelonious monk institute of jazz
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