FUSION (JAZZ)

-0-FUSION (NOUVEAUFLUX)-2aAs you know, fusion musically speaking is one of the most debated,  hated by traditionalists and dished terms by critics used to describe this divisive component in the body of jazz. On behalf of fusionist everywhere, as I see it this revered style of jazz will always have an allotted space on the shelves in my music collection. Why? In reality, being introduced to fusion was a defining moment for me in the late sixties. Actually, the more I listen to this distinctive voice in jazz my overall perspective about music evolved.  As fusion lovers,  it’s vital that we chronicle the wealth of influential artists who were at the cornerstone of this genre like Miles, Hancock, Weather Report, Corea, Hubbard, Return to Forever, Metheny, Duke,  McLaughlin and many others are certainly worthy couriers of this innovative and inspiring music.

Miles Okazaki, GENERATIONSVisual artists and musicians often use similar techniques to create their art. No one illustrates that confluence better than the Seattle-born, Brooklyn-based guitarist Miles Okazaki, who, in a few years, has burst on the scene with a musical approach that is rooted and revolutionary in its sophistication and simplicity, both of which are on full display on his amazing Sunnyside debut, Generations. Joining Okazaki on this impressive label debut are alto saxophonists Miguel Zenón, David Binney, and Christof Knoche; vocalist Jen Shyu, drummer Dan Weiss, and bassist Jon Flaugher, a group of musicians that has been working together for over ten years. Written, produced and illustrated by Okazaki, whose simmering guitar sound is a unique blend of traditional, unprocessed tone and futuristic musical vocabulary, the nine tracks weave and breathe with a melodic, rhythmic and harmonic character much in the way an artist paints with a brushstroke.

This recording was made in a single continuous take, in order to present the material as it might be heard in a live setting. As a result, there are no breaks between tracks, Okazaki writes in the CD liner notes. ~Editorial Review | Amazon

Wellstone Conspirarcy, MOTVIESWhat is the Wellstone Conspiracy? For some political intrigue junkies it alludes to the 2002 death of liberal Senator Paul Wellstone who perished in a small plane crash which some pundits believe was caused by an assassination scheme. For Pacific Northwest jazz fans, however, Wellstone Conspiracy is a skilled quartet which formed in 2006 to back up Idaho-based soprano saxophonist Brent Jensen. The musicians were last heard together on Jensen’s One More Mile (Origin, 2007). This time out, on Motives, the foursome have invented a new nomenclature and initiated full-group solidarity. Returning once again are Jensen and three Seattleites: pianist Bill Anschell, bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer John Bishop.

For Pacific Northwest jazz fans, however, Wellstone Conspiracy is a skilled quartet which formed in 2006 to back up Idaho-based soprano saxophonist Brent Jensen. The musicians were last heard together on Jensen’s One More Mile (Origin, 2007). This time out, on Motives, the foursome have invented a new nomenclature and initiated full-group solidarity.

Returning once again are Jensen and three Seattleites: pianist Bill Anschell, bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer John Bishop. ~Customer Review (Excerpt) by Doug (2015) | Amazon

Andy Narell ,LIGHT IIN YOUR EYESOne of Andy Narell’s most exciting and unpredictable albums, Light in Your Eyes ranges from the exuberant to the quietly introspective.

Narell, who embraces electric keyboards and acoustic piano in addition to his main instrument the steel pans, is undeniably inspired on everything from the driving post-bop number “A Stitch in Time” to the poetic, South American-influenced “The Strayaway Child” to the somewhat Joe Sample-ish title song.

World music has long been one of the charismatic Narell’s strong points, and on this fine CD, he looks to locations ranging from Africa to South America to Trinidad (where the steel pans originated) for inspiration.

~ Alex Henderson | Amazon

Simon Phillips, PROTOCOL IIIOne of the premier drummers of the day, stretching out the fusion/jazz format for some fun and great music. Awesome musicians all, they come together to create some great listening and head turning musical moments.

Simon is well known for his drumming with the Toto live, and thousands of side projects where he always brings his tasty, powerful drumming to the top of the mix where it belongs, then drives the songs up a level and gives the other players this awesome driving landscape to express their best playing. Each play here can move you and together they make some awesome music. A little f

Each play here can move you and together they make some awesome music. A little funk, jazz, power fusion, mixed by a great recording, reminding us of many great moments in fusion music. Good listening! ~Customer Review by Alan Wilkerson | Amazon

Mike Mainieri,CRESCENTLegendary vibraphonist Mike Mainieri, the leader of Steps Ahead, joins alto saxophonist Charlie Mariano and bassist Dieter Ilg in a double-CD tribute to John Coltrane, Crescent. Mainieri says, ‘This was one of Charlie Mariano’s last recordings before his death in 2009. Just about every selection on this 2-CD set was a first take. Charlie’s energy and the essence of his soulful performance were an inspiration to me those two memorable days, which I cherish as a gift from an enlightened soul. The music of John Coltrane and Charlie Mariano both left a large footprint for generations of musicians and fans to follow. I’m fortunate to have known both of them personally as a friend and fan.’ Tracks include: Mr. Syms, Wise One, Ole, Naima, Crescent, Giant Steps, Miles Mode.

The music of John Coltrane and Charlie Mariano both left a large footprint for generations of musicians and fans to follow. I’m fortunate to have known both of them personally as a friend and fan.’ Tracks include: Mr. Syms, Wise One, Ole, Naima, Crescent, Giant Steps, Miles Mode. ~Editorial Review | Amazon

The Tony Williams Lifetime, BELIEVE ITWhen my hormones and testosterone were raging like weeds in spring, oh, at about age 14, but, still, my brain was into musical stuff my little underdeveloped friends couldn’t even hope to understand, well, that’s when this thing dropped. It’s not that “Believe It” scared me, but it blew me back against the wall with a shock so powerful, it never stopped reverberating. Here, after forays into all sorts of strange jazz-rock-funk places, the late great drummer stripped it down to a ruthless core and amped up everything until the precision monster was ready to be unleashed. His drum attack is nothing like the amazing, poly-rhythmic extrapolations of the Miles Davis years. This is hurricane power of another kind. There is nuance — roar, low roar and simmer-to-boil. Williams and guitarist Allan Holdsworth simply crackle together in a way they wouldn’t come close to matching on the pathetic bid for record sales that followed, “Million Dollar Legs.” They just beat each other up for six tracks (bonus ones, I see, on the CD) while bassist and keyboardist plodded along and tried to stay out of the way. Check that: Alan Pasqua has a couple nice moments, but mostly it’s a two-man show. I don’t think this group was onto anything because they were already depleted by the second release. It had less to say than contemporaries — say, Mahavishnu Orchestra, for example — so petered out quicker. But this is a cornerstone of fusion, whether you’ve heard of it or not. Big, crisp, bludgeoning with fireworks of the best kind. While compositionally a cut below, it stands next to Billy Cobham’sSpectrum” for raw power. ~Customer Review | Amazon

Freddie Hubbard, SKY DIVEIn the early 1970s, when Sky Dive was released, the more commercially oriented jazz produced by Creed Taylor and arranged by Don Sebesky for CTI records seemed to many a tad tame and too slick. In retrospect, the music sounds polished to be sure yet still adheres to the fundamentals of jazz. Most especially, the individual musical personalities of the players are allowed to take center stage; in this case, Hubert Laws (THE man on flute back then), George Benson (not just soloing but also comping), Keith Jarrett (playing electric piano on a couple of tracks, very rare), Ron Carter (droning brilliantly as well as swinging), Billy Cobham (hard to believe he was in Mahavishnu Orchestra at the time) and of course Freddie Hubbard. No, this is not an Art Blakey session from the 60s with Freddie blasting out brilliant hard bop. But Freddie still plays with great technical fire and artistic taste, drawing on certain fusion elements without the use of electronics or guitar-wannabe rock motifs as well as his wide experience in free jazz contexts. CTI at its best. ~Customer Review by  Benjamin Livant | Amazon

Steps Ahead, MODERN TIMESSteps Ahead have always been Mike Mainieri’s group, and he is the only player to appear on every album. “Oops” and “Self-Portrait” are classic Mainieri compositions: long-lined unforgettable melodies, loud/soft contrasts, quirky bridges, outstanding solos over synth splashes, and sudden endings. His other two compositions on this album are a bit more eclectic. “Radio Active” is mostly programmed (special guest: Craig Peyton) and showcases Michael Brecker’s multitracked licks and best soloing on the album. “Old Town” includes drumbox, gurgling synth loops, Tony Levin on the Chapman Stick, and Mainieri’s marimba solo. Ubiquitous drummer Peter Erskine contributes the smooth “Now you know” with guest (and future bandmember) Chuck Loeb on guitar, a nice Warren Bernhardt piano solo, and Brecker making a rare appearance on soprano sax. Brecker’s only composition, “Safari“, also features his soprano work before moving to the tenor and a wonderful Mainieri vibraphone solo. Bernhardt’s “Modern Times” opens with intricate synth patterns and includes an Eddie Gomez bass solo that’s almost drowned in the mix. ~Customer Review (Excerpt) by Steve Wyzard |  Amazon

The Brecker Brothers, SELF-TILEDWhen Al Kooper formed Blood Sweat and Tears in 1968, he invited the Becker’s to join. This alone should attest to their talent. Al does not work with slouches. They have since worked with more top names than I can count. It may be faster to tell you who’s albums they did not grace. This is fat juicy funk by those horney twins–but this is no smooth jazz album. It uses dissonance and spikey time passage and advanced harmonics.

This is funk as music, not dance fare. But the basslines are fat, and the music has a sophisticated stop. The album is slickly recorded, but here, this benefits. The sheen that wrecks so much other music adds to the brashness and shine sported by the twins.

The sheen that wrecks so much other music adds to the brashness and shine sported by the twins. ~Customer Review by Bill Your ‘Free Form FM Print DJ | Amazon

Chris Potter, TRAVEKING MERCIESI think this is Potter’s most mature and yet most attractive album up to date. The songs are clear, strong and very original. Potter’s writing skills are still growing, he seems to have developed really a unique writing style. Can you imagine a 7/8 beat that swings so deep as in track nr. 4 – it’s my favorite (yes, I had this one on repeat for over a week). To me, this music reflects the sounds and time we live in in a beautiful, passionate and intelligent way. Of course, these musicians have what you can call an intellectual background, but they play with so much feeling and understanding of music! Check out tears to your eyes? Also, it’s jazz, of course. But it is far more than that. In a way, it even redefines jazz (like the new Pat Metheny Group does) and just I like that very much! It’s fresh and very intense, the playing is extremely tight, you can hear that these guys are soulmates. No egos involved, just smart and wise people being very serious about their music. Scofield’s solo on the 1st rack is awesome, it’s cooking! Overall, you can hear that Potter has a clear musical vision, a very strong, mature and meaningful voice. With three extremely strong musical statements (1,3,4) I can’t help but call this a masterpiece. ~Customer Review by Tom Beek (2004) | Amazon

McLaughliin, Pastorious & Williams, TRIO OF DOOMRecorded at the 1979 Havana Jazz Festival, this short and powerful set, with Miles Davis alumni, drummer Tony Williams and guitarist John McLaughlin, and Weather Report bassist Jaco Pastorius, was one for the ages. The previously unreleased selections, one through five, are explosive, but mis-miked live tracks. Williams’ “Drum Improvisation” segues into McLaughlin’s fuzz-toned “Dark Prince,” which does not swing in a silent way. Pastorious’ theme song “Continuum” is scaled down to its essential twilight textures, while the drummer’s “Para Oriente” – which later became a stable in V.S.O.P’s book, and was recast as “Angel Street” – is rendered here in a funky, pre-grunge mode. The guitarist’s “Are You the One, Are You the One?” previews the jam band craze. The rest of the cuts were recorded a week later in a New York studio, But the warts-and-all original sides are unmatched for their primal power.

~Reviewed by Eugene Holley, Jr. | Amazon

Herbie Hancock, HEADHUNTERSKeyboardist Herbie Hancock’s remarkable career took a surprising turn with this funk album–one of the first jazz albums to be certified gold. Hancock’s already-storied career had included an extended tenure with Miles Davis as a member of both the classic quintet of the ’60s and the trumpeter’s groundbreaking electric dates. As a leader, the pianist had followed a similar course, cutting both outstanding acoustic dates (Maiden Voyage, Empyrean Isles) and experimental electric sessions (Sextant, Crossings).

Head Hunters, however, was something different: a stripped-down date featuring reedman Bennie Maupin as the only horn player, and a funk-oriented rhythm section made up of Paul Jackson, Harvey Mason, and Bill Summers. Hancock traded in his sophisticated piano performances and complex compositions for simple melodies, slow-burn funk grooves, and light electric keyboard splashes. The results, particularly on the tracks “Chameleon” and “Watermelon Man,” had a profound   impact on other musicians, although critics charged Hancock with playing to the galleries. But the album has stood the test of time–something neither the wealth of Hancock’s imitators nor his own subsequent albums in this vein have been able to do. ~ Product Review by Fred Goodman |  Amazon

Victor Wooden, YIN YANGVictor Wooten is one of those rare electric bass technocrats who learned all the right lessons from Jaco Pastorius. While sounding not at all like him, Wooten exhibits the same ability to retain the groove and a warm midrange tone while demonstrating considerable prowess. On this ambitious two-CD project, Wooten runs the gamut from “wave” type instrumentals like “Imagine This,” where overdubbed basses function as both foundation and melody instruments, to sampled spoken-word pieces. Yin-Yang is definitely a family affair, including three other Wootens–Joseph (keys), Regi (guitar), and Rudy (sax)–as well as extended family members like Victor’s fellow Flecktone Béla Fleck and Dave Matthews Band drummer Carter Beauford. Even with all these guests, one would’ve preferred perhaps a more tightly edited single CD that featured more of Wooten’s instrumental individuality (on the order of “Singing My Song” with its stripped-down bass, drum, and vocal approach, or “Tali Lama” with its bluegrass tinges courtesy of Peter Rowan, and less generic “happy jazz” like “The Urban Turban“). Nevertheless, Yin-Yang should be required listening for any player or fan of electric bass. ~Reviewed by Michael Ross  | Amazon

Idris Muhammad, POWER OF SOULWhen I think of the feel of this album, I think “New York” jazz funk. To paraphrase King Curtis, a tablespoon of Brecker Brothers, a pinch of Bob James, a cup of Gary King on bass and some fat-back drums from Steve Gadd or in this case, Idris. Add some super sax work from Grover Washington — he really burns on this one — and some great guitar from Joe Beck and you have a real New York “Soul Stew.”

Other great examples of this are anything by “Stuff,” Eric Gale, Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years,” much of Bob James’ solo work and Tom Scott’sNew York Connection.

Regarding the tunes, all are great, but it’s “Sesame Street, one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other” time. “Power of Soul” is a phenomenal, blistering take on the Hendrix “Band of Gypsies” tune. My guess is that it was Buddy Miles’s drumming on this tune that attracted Idris. Like Miles, Gadd and Purdie, Muhammad has the zen of no-frills, deep pocket funk drumming down to the ground.

All three of the other tunes sound like some of the best Bob James you could want to hear. Sure, Bob only wrote Piece of Mind. But his “arranging and conducting” of the others by Beck and Washington infuses these tunes with a completely Jamesian feel.

I missed this album when it first came out. Even with what I consider to be at least reasonable research abilities on my part, I only just “discovered” it a month or so ago. Given that this disk is up there with Herbie Hancock’sThrust,” Scott’s “New York Connection” and Bob James’Touchdown,” I am just amazed that there aren’t more “pointers” to this music. ~Customer Review by John Palmer (2011) | Amazon

Vertu, SLEF-TITLEDThis album smokes. I bought it after reading an interview with Stan and when i put it on my jaw dropped. I’ve only listened to it about a dozen times so this may be too early to review it. The first two songs are very strong fusion in the classic style. By the way, the second song is not a rehash of “Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy“, rather the second song on the Hymn album called “After the Cosmic Rain“. They take the original song and blow it apart here, it is very well done. The last two songs are also very good. In fact, they all are. I’m not sure either about those vocals! They seem kind of out of place, then again they (almost) always do in fusion music. Kotzen’s guitar is intense. But what really shines here is Karen Briggs‘ violin playing. I have never heard her before but she is terrific. A lot of her playing here has a strong middle eastern influence to it. Rachel Z’s keyboard work is excellent but not dominant like in Return to Forever’s music. Stan and Lenny still know how to rock and sound better than ever. If you like fusion you will love this album.

~Customer Review by Unknown | Amazon

Return to Forever, NO MYSTERYI am going to buy this great album on CD, because I have it on vinyl, and it is worn out. Thank God for modern technology! Stanley Clarke, Al DiMeola, Chick Corea and Lenny White, show you what fire, passion, and creativity, in recorded music is all about with this disc. I have yet to hear any musicians before or since RTF, really push the envelope in performing the art form known as “jazz fusion”, with the possible exception of Vertu. The key to “No Mystery” is the virtuosity of each musician. Not before or since have I heard a collection of virtuoso musician’s, and composers who were great individually, and yet could check their egos at the door and put together awesome music like this. If you haven’t checked out RTF and “No Mystery” do so with a quickness, it will open your eyes, and show you how weak, commercial and tepid jazz and other music forms are now! ~

~Customer Review by H. Wolf III |Amazon

Weather Report, I SING THE BODY ELECTRICThe first half of this 1972 album consists of studio recordings that continue the collective approach of the self-titled debut, but the arrangements are better developed and the amount of loose collective improvisation is more restricted. Zawinul’s genius as an arranger becomes more apparent on his compositions; he uses three vocalists and three additional horns on the ominous “Unknown Soldier” to brilliant effect. “Second Sunday in August” uses a more pared back arrangement but a memorable melody and driving rhythm make this one of their best early tunes. Wayne Shorter, not to be outdone, contributes “The Moors” — a great eerie piece featuring Ralph Towner on 12 string guitar. (And his fierce tenor sax blowing on “Unknown Soldier” is outstanding — he would never sound this good in Weather Report again.) The rhythm section of Gravatt/Vitous/Romao is incredible. The second half of the album features an edited 20 minute excerpt from Live in Tokyo; though the music is fantastic, you should try to pick up the imported, unedited copy. This is one of the group’s best albums, though it may not be the Heavy Weather fan’s cup of tea. ~Customer Review by GB | Amazon

Yellowjackets, FOUR CORNERSI remember playing this album as a jazz DJ for a Los Angeles college radio station and being blown away. I interviewed Russell Ferrante and broadcast it during the month it was released. I won’t waste your time and restate all the wonderful reviews already submitted, but will say that this was their best effort and very much influenced by Weather Report who had pioneered this World Music approach to progressive jazz 10 years earlier. Russell said as much in the interview we did way back in the 1980s and this not only is a fitting tribute to Weather Report but a MAJOR STATEMENT ABOUT THE ARTISTRY OF the YELLOWJACKETS!!!!

Over 20 years old and still a beautiful, creative, passionate example of contemporary/progressive jazz as it is supposed to be played…..it is timeless and sounds great today!!!!

~Customer Review by The Jazz Doctor | Amazon

Al Di Meloa, SPLENDIDO HOTELFrom start to finish this album is nothing but classic song after classic song. The mainstream really missed out on this album. Just as Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson made a short stint of radio airplay, I believe that this album could offer something to anyone in the way those two were a part of music even to a lowly pop music fan. Asides from that, as pop music is usually the worst kind of music, Al Di Meola could appeal to anyone, from the fan of Miles Davis to the fan of Metallica, or even a fan of Eric Clapton. In fact, Al Di Meola often borders on heavy metal shred, at the same time while never losing his jazz roots. When I rate this album 5 stars, it is that I want to say that Hotel Splendido is one of the best albums ever! Really, Hotel Splendido is impossible to beat value as an album. It is one of my cherished classics, something that I could never really grow tired of. I use my 5/5 star rating very sparingly, and the reason for it is so that I can share with someone, anyone, that there is something magical about this album. There is something about this album that I could pull it out 50 years, 100 years, or even 1,000 years from now and sing the same songs of praise about the greatness of Hotel Splendido. ~Customer Review by Craig Hamilton |  Amazon

Miles Davis, IN A SILENT WAYThis is an album of haunting and ethereal beauty – rich, layered, intricate aural landscapes that cast a deep spell no matter how many times you listen. As another reviewer here said, nothing else is quite like this. And like all true great works of art, it’s not easy to describe. Sure there are elements of other music – trippy jamming; ambient trance; funky fusion; traditional improvisational jazz – but the brilliant and soulful solos by John McLaughlin, Wayne Shorter, and of course Miles combine with the grooves laid down by Dave Holland and Tony Williams to make music that transcends categories. There is only one type of sound I can think of that comes close to this album. It’s the sound you encounter sometimes when you’re hiking through the woods, away from civilization and human noise, when your ear is suddenly caught by the interplay of the wind through the trees, animals rustling in the grass, flies buzzing, birds chirping, even your own breathing and footsteps, and everything sounds perfect, like a symphony conducted by some unseen presence. “In a Silent Way” captures that magic and freedom and freshness. It’s a gift to the world that any true fan of music – any and all kinds of music – should own. Enough words. Buy this, close your eyes, open your ears and your mind, and listen. Just listen . . . . . ~Customer Review by (Unknown) | Amazon

Weather ReportWeather Report, TALE SPINNIN'‘s ever-changing lineup shifts again, with the somewhat heavier funk-oriented Leon “Ndugu” Chancler dropping into the drummer’s chair and Alyrio Lima taking over the percussion table. As a result, Tale Spinnin’ has a weightier feel than Mysterious Traveller, while continuing the latter’s explorations in Latin-spiced electric jazz/funk. Zawinul‘s pioneering interest in what we now call world music is more in evidence with the African percussion, wordless vocals, and sandy sound effects of “Badia,” and his synthesizer sophistication is growing along with the available technology.

Wayne Shorter‘s work on soprano sax is more animated than on the previous two albums and Alphonso Johnson puts his melodic bass more to the fore. While not quite as inventive as its two predecessors, this remains an absorbing extension of WR‘s mid-’70s direction.

~AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell

A collection of material recorded between 1969 and 1972, the period just after Bitches Brew, Big Fun was not issued until 1974. By then, Davis had moved on in other directions, so it became a much-neglected album. The compositions are too scattered to maintain a focus, but there is much to Miles Davis, BIG FUNhear within. For example, this was the album that introduced “Ife,” a piece recorded during the On the Corner sessions. Built on the simplest of bass vamps and the skimpiest of melodies, it nonetheless was enough to incite Miles’s playing. It stayed in his performance book for years, and turned up on other recordings, such as Dark Magus, Agharta, Pangaea, and In Concert. “G

“Go Ahead, John,” from the Jack Johnsonperiod in 1970, has a sublimely nasty (and sonically infuriating) guitar solo from John McLaughlin. This digitally remastered edition of Big Fun also contains the bonus tracks “Recollection,” “Trevere,” “The Little Blue Frog,” and “Yaphet” (all of which were also included on the recently issued Complete Bitches Brew Sessions, along with “Great Expectations,” “Recollections,” “Orange Lady,” and “Lonely Fire“). ~

~Reviewed by John F. Szwed  | Amazon

Stanley Clarke, SCHOOL DAYS1976 was an extraordinary year for jazz-rock, and a very fortunate year for the CBS label. Weather Report’s Jaco Pastorius released his wonderful debut solo album, Stanley Clarke released ‘Schooldays‘, and his band Return to Forever released their ‘Romantic Warrior‘ masterpiece. It’s useful to compare the two bassists’ approaches to solo albums. Pastorius assumed a solo album meant just that: although there would be some numbers in a group setting, there should also be at least a couple of tracks where bass was the only instrument. Clarke didn’t quite see things that way: his solo albums were more of an opportunity to front numerous different assemblies of highly accomplished musicians. The only rule, as he saw it, was not to use Lenny White or Al di Meola, or you might as well call the result another Return to Forever album. Here he employs a fantastic roll-call of the leading drummers of the time: Bill Cobham, Eleventh House’s Gerry Brown, and ace session musician Steve Gadd. Corea isn’t featured at all, so Clarke himself provides some piano, and Dave Sancious and George Duke provides most of the keyboard fest elsewhere. The album was Clarke’s zenith, and his biggest seller. Sadly there’s only one acoustic track here, but the electric tracks, to my ear, haven’t dated as badly as those on ‘Journey to Love‘. Over the course of 25 years I have played it to death, and feel I know every note! But this means I cannot forecast how it will sound to new ears. To me it’s still hugely enjoyable. ~Customer Review by  Gavin Wilson | Amazon

John McLaughlin Mahavishnu Orchestra, VISIONS OD THE EMERALD BEYONDFrom the first note of this masterpiece, you are treated to a blitz of music. A saturation of masterful playing that remains relentless throughout the duration of the record. Kicking the bonanza off with two tracks entitled, Eternity’s Breath – Part 1 and Eternity’s Breath – Part 2, we learn what playing drums is all about. With Narada Michael Walden pummeling his drum kit faster than you would have thought humanly possible, he is nothing short of divine. As Jean Luc-Ponty starts his descent upon the album, it just sounds too good to be true. Between Walden’s drumming and Ponty’s frenzied playing, it leaves the door wide open for the man of the hour to waltz in, …and waltz in he does. With McLaughlin blasting into an onslaught of guitar solo fury, and keeping pace with an already swirling musical ocean, a short verse is introduced. Reminiscent of vocal pieces you might hear in musicals such as “Hair” or “Jesus Christ Superstar“, we get a superb complement to the instrumentation. Cerebral phrasing that is both uplifting and vivacious. What a way to start a record.

~Excerpt Customer Review by Scott “Dr. Music” Itter  | Amazon

Santana, CARAVANSERAIThere are few musicians who elevate the art form to the levels achieved by Carlos Santana, Mike Shrieve, Gregg Rolie, and Neal Schon on this album. CARAVANSERAI was created at a transitional phase in the band’s evolution which was marked by Carlos’ spiritual inner journey and a high degree of openness and experimentation in the band’s approach to the music. Added to these factors are the sheer virtuosity and musicianship of the band members, who were now at the peak of their craft. There have been only a few albums that achieve the level of beauty and mastery that this album does. Do I dare name them? The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour, Jefferson Airplane’s – Volunteers, Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland. CARAVANSERAI is one of life’s mysteries that I don’t want to figure out. I don’t know why it moves my heart and soul, but it does, from beginning to end. It is easily Santana’s best work.

~Customer Review by Gita (1999)-| Amazon 

Hiromi, BRAINJapanese pianist and composer Hiromi Uehara dazzled the jazz world with her 2003 debut, Another Mind. Its mash of keyboard pyrotechnics and range of compositional styles was multiplied exponentially by her irrepressible energy. On that set, she used variously sized ensembles to articulate her compositions. On Brain, Hiromi strips it back to a trio and offers a more intimate look at her wide musical universe, utilizing drummer Martin Valihora, bassist Tony Grey (both fellow Berklee College of Music alums), and alternately bassist Anthony Jackson. The album opens with the wacky ”

The album opens with the wacky “Kung-Fu World Champion” with its mélange of sequenced keyboards. It’s a fusion tune to be sure, but it’s so kooky and funky that it transcends the label despite its reliance on staggering time signatures and stop-on-air turnarounds and changes.

~Excert from review by Thom Jurek | Allmusic.com

Return to Forever, WHERE HAVE I KNOWN YOU BEFOREThis is one of those albums that just seems to have been laying there forever, to be discovered by a group of talented musicians. It almost flows from the musicians on it own accord; they seem as surprised and inspired in playing as we are listening. The whole band – Chick, Al DiMeola, Stanley Clark, Lenny White – are phenoms. Their skill is stratospheric. To me, as a drummer, Lenny’s performance here is magical.
Remember, this album came out in the same period as John McLaughlin’s most famous works – BIRDS OF FIRE and INNER MOUNTING FLAME – so these guys were feeding off of each other (much like Paul McCartney and Brian Williams were). This album is one of the Fusion pioneer albums. The genre didn’t exist before RTF and McLaughlin. It quickly sunk under its own weight with all the copycat bands while the founding fathers moved on to better things. I saw RTF on tour for this album; third-row front; right in front of Lenny (I could see his kick drum foot working – he had on these platform shoes, playing heel-down). It was a fabulous show, even better than the album (I remember Stanley turning to Lenny and giving him the “easy, dude” hand sign: Lenny was just a monster, in his own world!). If you buy only ONE Corea album, or even only ONE Fusion album, this is the one! ~Howie (Customer Review Amazon)

Jaco Pastorius, SELF-TITLEDIn 1976, the first 10 minutes of this eponymous disc took the listener on a jazz world cruise directed by the instrumentalist-composer Jaco Pastorius, who thus gave notice that there was a new sheriff in town and that narrow definitions of jazz would simply not do. More so even than his groundbreaking work as a member of Weather Report, Jaco’s music on this, his debut album as a leader (and in a trio setting with his soulmate Pat Metheny on the guitarist’s maiden voyage, Bright Size Life defines his greatness, his outreach, and his ambition. Boppish changes à la Miles Davis come through with Jaco’s incredible touch, tone phrasing, and rhythmic locomotion–as does the musical leap of faith from bebop to funky-butt R&B delivered with lyrical majesty on Jaco’s aptly titled “Continuum.”

This reissue greatly enhances the fidelity of Jaco Pastorius, particularly in the bassist’s famous, elusive tone, from lightly chorused, vocal-tenor like glissandos on “Continuum” and the bell-like harmonics of “Portrait of Tracy” to his percussive, hand-drumlike rhythmic cycles underneath Peter Gordon’s august French horn on “Oknokole Y Trompa.” Even more stunning are the manner in which Jaco deploys a steel drum choir underneath Wayne Shorter on “Opus Pocus” and the ferocious Latin-inflected groove Jaco, Lenny White, and Don Alias conjure under Herbie Hancock on two takes–one unissued until now–of “(Used to Be a) Cha-Cha.” Pat Metheny contributes an extraordinary set of liner notes to this set, putting Jaco’s contributions to jazz and the bass in sharp perspective. Still, a spirit of innovation and discovery suffuses every note on Jaco Pastorius, and it is startling how modern and engaging this music remains. ~Chip Stern (Editorial Review Amazon)

Miles Davis, FILLES DE KILIMANJAROSince it’s billed as “Directions in Music by Miles Davis,” it should come as little surprise that Filles de Kilimanjaro is the beginning of a new phase for Miles, the place that he begins to dive headfirst into jazz-rock fusion. It also happens to be the swan song for his second classic quintet, arguably the finest collective of musicians he ever worked with, and what makes this album so fascinating is that it’s possible to hear the breaking point — though his quintet all followed him into fusion (three of his supporting players were on In a Silent Way), it’s possible to hear them all break with the conventional notions of what constituted even adventurous jazz, turning into something new. According to Miles, the change in “direction” was as much inspired by a desire to return to something earthy and bluesy as it was to find new musical territory, and Filles de Kilimanjaro bears him out. Though the album sports inexplicable, rather ridiculous French song titles, this is music that is unpretentiously adventurous, grounded in driving, mildly funky rhythms and bluesy growls from Miles, graced with weird, colorful flourishes from the band.

~An excerpt from a AllMusic.com Review by  Stephen Thomas Erlewine (If you haven’t heard this album, listen to it at Spotify.com)

SOURCE: AllMusic.com

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