Nothing beats some smoking jazz rock fusion.  An offshoot of the Miles Davis Bitches Brew experiments, the fusion style was spearheaded by Davis and an impressive amount of talented musicians.  The proprieters of the style were John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Larry Coryell, Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, and a host of others.  All of them headed seminal fusion bands Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever The Eleventh House, Weather Report, and Lifetime.  These bands fueled the careers of heavyweights like Billy Cobham, Jaco Pastorius, Jan Hammer, Al Di Meola, Stanley Clarke, and Alphonse Mouzon (among many others).

Frank Zappa dipped his licks into the fusion style, producing not only classic albums, but creating a platform for incredible musicians to explore ideas and become stars in their own right.  I love listening to his albums with Jean Luc Ponty on violin and George Duke on keys and vocals, primarily ’68-74.  Jeff Beck topped the charts with Blow By Blow and Wired, two important genre-crossing releases.  Tommy Bolin offered his guitar for the seminal “Spectrum” by Billy Cobham and “Mind Transplant” from Alphonse Mouzon.  Santana recorded a sensational fusion album “Caravanserai” before the original band splintered and Carlos went on to perform with the likes of Mahavishnu John McLaughlin.  The rock world was well represented in the jazz fusion world, and the collaborations made for some killer music.  Even Phil Collins and his band Brand X sparked creativity within the fusion world.

I love the ebb and flow and the organization of the instruments.  I listened to Weather Report and some of Jeff Beck’s classic fusion recordings in college, and was into FZ in high school.  Then I branched out into Return to Forever and Mahavishnu Orchestra and Larry Coryell.  Then I listened to solo albums from musicians associated with these bands and found more artists (especially foreign) and listened to them and on and on and on.  I’ll probably discover more and listen to them.

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