Fusion (music)

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Fusion , even jazz-rock or rock Jazz called, is a style of music , which since the mid- 1960s trained -years and in which the sophistication of jazz with the rhythmic intensity of the radio and the power of rock music connects. Fusion was very popular in the 1970s .


Fusion of rock and jazz

The history of fusion jazz began in New York City in 1962 with the group Jeremy and the Satyrs , which was formed around the jazz flutist Jeremy Steig . The status of this band is difficult to assess in retrospect, however, as the band's music, which performed regularly in Café A Go Go , was only recorded on record in 1968. In 1965 Blues Project began to combine elements of folk rock , blues rock and jazz. The group already played with organ, electric guitar and bass guitar and worked with vocalists in rock style. Also in 1965 Larry Coryell and Jim Pepper founded the quintet Free Spirits . This group was psychedelic, but also open to old-time music . On the west coast, musicians around John Handy experimented with rock elements between 1965 and 1967, and electrically amplified instruments (guitar, violin) were also used. This was followed by groups around guitarist Jerry Hahn on the one hand, violinist Michael White and New Zealand keyboardist Mike Nock (The Fourth Way) on the other .

In Europe there was a jazz rock movement early on, and partly independent of the development in the USA, which initially went relatively unnoticed and which was not granted any great commercial success. Here is first of The Graham Bond Organization to call, in which the Mellotron introduced the Hammond organ reinforced and the bass guitar and melodic functions were assigned. From this group came two musicians, John McLaughlin and Jack Bruce , who, like their compatriot Dave Holland, later also contributed to the development of rock jazz in the USA. The Dave Pike Set has promoted the fusion of rock and jazz music in Central Europe since 1968.

The triggers for the recognition of this musical trend by the music industry, however, were the Miles Davis records In a Silent Way and especially Bitches Brew , in which Joe Zawinul played a major role. Until then, jazz had almost exclusively used acoustic instruments, but now many electric instruments such as the electric guitar , the electric piano, the electric violin and synthesizers were also used. The jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, for example, alienated his trumpet playing in Dark Magus (1974) with effect devices for electric guitars. The drums are not limited to their usual role of having to beat the beat, but become a full-fledged solo instrument.

In rock jazz , all musicians are largely equal ( polyphony ). Although the soloists (guitar, keyboard, wind instruments) are given a leading role here too, the bassist and drummer - similar to what has become increasingly popular in jazz since Bill Evans - are no longer accompanists, but are given enough freedom for themselves and themselves Instrument. In the 1970s, was designed by the jazz-based Rock Jazz at that time the rock music attributed Jazz Rock distinction, in which bassist and drummer mostly had accompaniment function and more oriented in their game at the idiom of rock. Since 1968, brass rock bands have emerged - partly initiated by Al Kooper and other musicians of the Blues Project - that added wind instruments to a conventional rock line-up. The groups Blood, Sweat & Tears , Chicago , The Flock , Dreams and (a little later) Chase became best known . From Europe, Colosseum can be mentioned with a slightly different concept . The example of Soft Machine makes it clear that there were other fusion groups that cannot be clearly assigned to either rock jazz or jazz rock.

Return to Forever (1976)

The first creative phase of the musical fusion was in the first half of the 1970s. The albums by Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock , John McLaughlin and the groups Weather Report , Chick Coreas Return to Forever and the British band Nucleus around Ian Carr are considered classics of this time. Some fusion musicians have had exceptionally large commercial successes for jazz. Herbie Hancock's Head Hunters album sold millions, including John McLaughlin and, above all, Weather Report, which reached a large audience.

Further development

Around 1975 jazz radio was recognized as another sub-genre of the fusion style, alongside rock jazz and jazz rock. Driven by drummers such as Jack DeJohnette , Alphonse Mouzon , Billy Cobham and, a little later, Ronald Shannon Jackson , an almost naive sounding music was created here, which, despite complicated meters and time changes, was danceable and at the same time required instrumental improvisation.

Towards the end of the 1990s, musicians like Dave Douglas or Medeski, Martin & Wood again clearly referred to the roots of the fusion.


In retrospect, the fusion of jazz, rock and funk is a historical style that strongly influenced the further development of jazz. In the 1970s it excited a large audience for this music and also opened new venues for jazz musicians. The fusion shaped the style of a whole generation of musicians, even if some of them later no longer became active in it. Many musicians who later turned back to acoustically played music stuck to the fusion concept and still make skilfully arranged, entertaining music of very high complexity (such as Roberto di Gioia or Eddie Gomez ).

The merger had great musical successes overall. It was also the prerequisite for further development in the music genres rock, funk and jazz. Due to the technical perfection of many of the musicians involved, who came from the jazz field, a new professionalism found its way into funk and rock music. More and more musicians became active in this new musical genre who had a basic education in jazz behind them and, for example, played swinging jazz as well as driving rock rhythms as drummers, as saxophonists to blow virtuoso-free solos and soul-rich riffs, or As a guitarist, setting noisy sounds and harmonious jazz chords.


In addition to the musicians mentioned, important groups were Chick Coreas Return To Forever , John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra and Joe Zawinul's Weather Report . The founders of all these style-defining groups worked on triggering album Bitches Brew by Miles Davis with. Also European musicians like Jean-Luc Ponty , Volker Kriegel ( Inside: Missing Link with Albert Mangelsdorff ), Wolfgang Dauner (Etcetera) , Ian Carr (Nucleus) , Joachim Kühn , Dieter Seelow and Pierre Courbois (Association PC) , Jasper van't Hof (Pork Pie) , Pekka Pohjola , Zbigniew Namysłowski and Allan Holdsworth presented albums of outstanding energy, quality and creativity, which, like the fusion albums by Frank Zappa - Hot Rats (1969), Waka / Jawaka (1972) and The Grand Wazoo (1972) - are partly completely independent of the fusion concept of Miles Davis. Among the bassists, Stanley Clarke played a leading role in developing the Fusion.

After the early years, groups such as Steps Ahead , the Brecker Brothers or the bands of Pat Metheny or David Sanborn were added.

Well-known fusion albums

See also


  • Julie Coryell, Laura Friedman: Jazz Rock Fusion: The People, the Music. Dell, New York 1978.
  • Kevin Fellezs: Birds of Fire. Jazz, rock, funk, and the creation of fusion. Duke University Press, Durham 2011, ISBN 978-0-8223-5047-7 .
  • Burghard König: Jazz rock. Trends in modern music . rororo Volume 7766, Reinbek near Hamburg 1983.
  • Stuart Nicholson: Jazz-Rock: A History. Schirmer, New York 1998.