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Personal Notes - The History Of Jazz - Part 8
In Part Eight of 'The History Of Jazz' I try to piece together the crazy Fusion Jazz days of the genre and uncover the musicians who pathed the way for the music that we listen to today.  
wes george

If you are already a jazz aficionado you will already be aware of the following details so this article is aimed at those of you who are 'new to Jazz' or 'catching up'.

Whenever an artist is mentioned in the articles, YOU can send us your take on THEIR BIOGRAPHY and we will link it to a separate page with your credits. Send us the Biographies to info@jazznet247.net ( We will reserve the right to edit before publishing ) - See Dave Brubeck

The History Of Jazz - Part 8 - Fusion Jazz

By the late Sixties jazz was rapidly losing its audience. Bebop and Swing were both old hat though each had their followers as had Free Jazz, the new movement of the early Sixties had never won much of an audience outside of Europe.

In New York it was to be found much more often in the low rent lofts of Manhattan than in commercial clubs and even big stars like Miles Davis were finding their record sales and concert attendances were dipping.

Not for the first, or last time, people started to talk about the Death of Jazz, s omething had to be done and once again it was Miles Davis who did it.

Miles' conclusion was that jazz got dangerously 'out of touch' with its natural constituency who were young, urban Afro-Americans as after Bop they had slowly drifted away.  Bop and Cool were not very danceable. ‘The New Thing’ was even less so as all the person in the street could hear was a lot of very unappealing squeaks and gibbers.

The popular black music had long been Soul or Electric Blues. The jazz audience had in fact become largely middle class and white, even the younger middle-class white listeners had now turned more or less exclusively to Rock.

Miles decided that 'if you can't beat them you might as well join them'. He started to listen closely to Sly And The Family Stone, a pop-soul-rock band that was very successful in 1968 and slowly at first he began to move in the same direction.

On 'Miles In The Sky', 'Filles De Kilimanjaro', both from 1968 and 'In A Silent Way' there are new sidemen, the keyboard players Chick Corea and Joe Zawinul, British bassist Dave Holland and guitarist John McLaughlin and the sound was becoming truly electric, but the breakthrough album was 'Bitches Brew' (1969) which added a new drummer, Jack DeJohnette and unveiled a completely new style i.e. Jazz-Rock Fusion.

'Bitches Brew' is one of the most divisive jazz albums ever made. To some it is another of Miles's great steps forward, a session to put beside 'Birth Of The Cool' and 'Kind Of Blue'. To others it marked the point where he ceased to be of any serious musical interest and these were not necessarily the nostalgic, ageing fans of his earlier work, they also include the young neo-classical Beboppers of the Eighties like Wynton Marsalis.

Yet Davis never looked back, he adopted an electric trumpet with a wah-wah device and performed in ever more thunderously amplified contexts until retiring from music in 1976 for a period of intense dissipation and near mental breakdown. After he returned in 1981 he continued to toy with Pop music and even Disco sounds.

His sidemen of the Sixties were quick to follow suit. Within a year or two all of them had formed their own fusion bands, Chick Corea formed 'Return To Forever' (a gloriously period name), Zawinul and Shorter, 'Weather Report', John McLaughlin, the 'Mahavishnu Orchestra', and Jack DeJohnette, the 'Special Edition'.

All were very successful, soon more or less everybody was doing it and Hard Bop trumpeters whose ambitions had previously barely extended to owning a sports car were now flying around the world in private planes. These were delirious times, the most lucrative days for jazz musicians since the heyday of Swing.

Jazz-Rock wasn’t the only variety of Fusion going on, soon just about any musical form you can mention was being fused with Jazz and anything else that came to mind. John McLaughlin went in for Indian music and Flamenco, Chick Corea added Latin flavouring while the Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira worked with Miles Davis and Weather Report amongst others. His wife, singer Flora Purim joined him in ‘Return To Forever’.

Latin Jazz-which had been an accepted hybrid since Dizzy Gillespie started experimenting with it in the Forties grew in popularity and continued to do so dramatically through the Eighties.

Keith Jarrett blended jazz with classical music and Country and Western amongst other ingredients in his epic and very popular solo piano improvisations.

This wasn't the end of the blending that went on. The notion of mixing jazz with native elements introduced the possibility of jazz, or jazz-derived music that didn't imitate the American original.

The South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim bad been introducing African elements into jazz since the Sixties and in the Seventies and Eighties his music took on a more and more indigenous colouring. Others followed in the same path.

In Europe it was the Norwegian Jan Garbarek, after working with various permutations of Freedom and Fusion he began to explore the Folk music of Scandinavia and developed a bleak northern idiom which has little to do with Armstrong or Basie but still found a large audience.

This Euro-sound has appealed to other players like John Surtnan and saxophonist Tommy Smith in the United Kingdom, however how much of this was ‘good music’ is another question !  The first wave of Jazz Rock was often very slight stuff and Chick Corea's ‘Return To Forever’ is a perfect example of this. As the vogue wore on the Fusion bands got lighter and lighter weight.

Much of their music lacks the virtues of both Jazz and Rock. As for the other blends on the market, Garbarek and Jarrett for example, they too have very few of the traditional qualities of jazz but they have nevertheless found an audience.

Up to a point the question, ‘ Is it really jazz ? ’  is academic, the term ‘ Improvised Music ’  is often preferred for the more remote varieties of Freedom and Fusion, but the blurring of jazz identity in the Seventies undoubtedly led to its reassertion by the young neo-classicists of the Eighties.

The urge to Fuse is by no means dead, however Rock inflections and techniques colour the work of John Scofield and Bill Frisell for example, two guitarists who have been very prominent in the following years and in seam of a truly contemporary idiom the altoist Steve Coleman and band M-Base have attempted to fuse Post-Free Jazz with Hip-Hop.

As with so much Fusion the ‘ end product ‘ was sadly not as good as the ‘ ingredients ‘ which went into it.

Next Time in Part 9 - Neo Jazz

Catch Up
The History Of Jazz Part 1 - Where It All Began
The History Of Jazz Part 2 - Jazz In The Twenties
The History Of Jazz Part 3 - The Age Of Swing
The History Of Jazz Part 4 - Then Came Bebop

The History Of Jazz Part 5 - The Sound Of Cool
The History Of Jazz Part 6 - Hard Bop
The History Of Jazz Part 7 - Free Jazz

Wes George (former Webmaster with Sony Jazz UK)  
Blog Page - Facebook.com/streetjazzblogpage6 top of page
Also See :-
* Gil Evans - Out Of The Cool Review
* Paul Desmond - Take Ten Review
* Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto - Getz / Gilbert Review
* Art Blakey - Moanin' Review
* Julie London - Around Midnight Review
* Round Midnight DVD Review
* Dave Brubeck - Time Out Review
* Charlie Parker - Now's The Time Review
* Billie Holiday - Lady In Satin Review
* John Coltrane - Blue Train Review
Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue Review
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Personal Notes - WELCOME TO THE WINTER OF 2020


'WHAT GOES ROUND COMES ROUND', a saying that I used frequently during my training days in the corporate world because the fact is that when everyone runs out of ideas, for whatever reason, they usually turn to a reincarnation of something that has gone before, jazz has been doing it throughout its lifecycle and I am not necessarily talking about playing styles, but the way it is perceived and promoted.

In the previous Personal Notes articles I have talked about 'Adding Value' in a crowded landscape with 'Data Overload' so I wanted to mention some factors which marketers use to 'Differentiate The Product' and
its 'Product Perception'.

The best way I can make an example of this and metaphorically 'kill two birds with one stone' is to use our own JazzNet247 Radio Europe project as a model. I conceived this project back in 1994 to try and help the jazz music industry which had been flagging for 25 - 30 odd years previously. Having been 'the Pop Music' for so many in the 30's, 40's and the 50's in the USA its popularity began to dip with the arrival of The Beatles, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones and individuals such as Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly who captured the imagination of the music loving public with Rock and Roll.

So this project started out with
a Radio Broadcast, and also a complimentary website to Add Value and support for the radio shows with Playlists and Features. Today we are adding New Features all the time and our Project is really split in to two distinct areas i.e. one with Support For The Musicians and one with an Information Source For The Listeners.

JazzNet247 Radio Europe Website Features
For The Artists For The Listeners
Airplay on our 8 Channels   8 Jazz Channels
Free Radio Adverts   Elite Listener's Club
Liners To Support Music   A to Z Directory
Chart Reporting   Music Tips Directory
New Releases Listing   History Of Jazz Story
Jazz Music Central   Music Reviews
Marketing Tips   Personal Notes Articles
Featured Artist   New Features
Submitting Music   About Us
Time Out Shows   Get Involved

The year 2020 has been a horrendous year for jazz musicians with lockdown forcing them to remain at home, most saw this as an opportunity and their 'own time for reflection' and to work on New Projects. (Incidentally this also proved to many businesses that employees could indeed 'work from home', thus reducing travel time to an from work and the need for expensive head office costs.)

However it changed the jazz landscape from the musicans perspective and reduced their ability to suppliment their music sales with live performances through concerts, touring, gigs, session work, contra work etc etc, those with their own recording facilities at home were able to bypass some of the stages required for the releases of a new project and those with specialized software could share channels and add to someone else's project through the power of the internet. However with an uncertain future and a long road ahead to a return to normality most musicians will be feeling the pinch and may be in need of help.

As an enthusiast of the History Of Jazz for some 50 years (Read The History Of Jazz Story serial) I found inspiration from the work of John Hammond and the support of Pannonica de Koeningswarter and although the only thing that I have in common with the affluent latter is that we are both British, their support of jazz was relentless and their work and financial input to try and support, and in some cases, change the jazz landscape and conditions for the artists for the better.

With all that said One Of Our Latest Projects is called Jazz Music Central which is a FREE Services Directory for Jazz Professionals i.e. Musicians, Producers, Recording Studios, Mastering Facilities, Promotional companies, CD Duplicators, Graphic Artists For Cover Art i.e. all of the Services which are required to start and finish a Project from A to Z.

Hopefully when they are contemplating a project in the future this Jazz Music Central Directory will be useful when it matures for an artist or band, whereby they will easily be able to find a Local or Regional Service which will hopefully SAVE TIME and COST (these are only some of the Services) :-

* Another Musician To Play On The Project
* A Producer
* A Recording Facility
* A CD Duplication Company
* A Graphic Artist For The Cover Artwork
* A Promotional Company
* A List Of Stations for Airplay

* A List Of Jazz Venues and Contacts
* Back Up Bands By Area for Touring Musicians

The Jazz Music Central Directory will be listed initially Globally, but may eventually be split by Continent or if popular, by Country.

Jazz Professionals may Submit Their Entry or Entries if they offer various Services using This Page @ www.jazznet247.net/jazzmusiccentral/submittingdetails.htm

Due to time constraints we will Add The Entries, but the Jazz Professionals themselves will Contact One Another to establish feasibility of working with one another. (We already spend 30 hours per week free of charge maintaining the website and producing shows).

We are actively looking for a jazz enthusiast or enthusiasts to run with this Directory Section and vital service for the Jazz Professionals, if you have some time on your hands and would like to help today's jazz musicians, please Contact Us.

We hope that this Jazz Music Central Directory will prove useful and helpful for the industry and try and help Turn The Corner and improve the fortunes of the many independent artists and other ancilliary jazz professionals who have been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The success of the project will depend upon all interested parties signposting the links through their friends and contacts on Social Media or by Email.

Even though you aren't personally involved as a Jazz Professional but enjoy the genre, perhaps you would be kind enough to share the links and the concept with your friends and contacts. Every little helps in the survival of the music that we love.

Our thanks goes out to bassist and composer Christian De Mesones from Washington DC in the USA for his input in researching this article, his latest single 'Sweetnight' is featured on our first STREETJAZZ Show No. 924 in 2021 @ www.jazznet247.net/playlist_924.htm

This is an example of Adding Value and Product Perception and you may be able to think of your own ways of Adding Value to your music projects, personally I think that working with the Business Sector may be the way forward as many of them will be looking for new ideas to move forward and especially sectors like Tourists Boards, Airlines, Hotels, Hospitality etc etc,
currently most people are doing the same thing in the same way and it is hard to stand out in a crowd.

If you can introduce yourself and link your music to an idea to compliment their promotion you may 'kill two birds with one stone', or like my award winning noughties' project with a musician from Colorado, i.e. show how we could sell thousaands of CDs to 'one customer' rather than his old sales pattern of '500 CDs to 500 customers'.


'Where there is a will - there may be a way'.


As this is the last Personal Notes of 2020 until next year I want to thank the many listeners and readers of the Radio Shows and Website for their feedback this year. As we enter into our 27th year of trying to help the jazz genre and todays' musicians we reflect on what has happened in 2020 and the tragic loss of human life, the pain and suffering of humanity, the loss of businesses and livelihoods and the bleak outlook for the coming year !

At JazzNet247 Radio Europe we will try and do all that we can here to support the music with our 8 Jazz Channels, our Website and our Blog Pages and we will be contacting all of the new artists who appear on our shows through FaceBook or by Email as usual to inform them of the opportunities that we offer on our Project to try and help support their own projects and their music and hopefully keep their profile raised in a crowded marketplace.

I will continue writing my jazz projects as time and health allows, as a full time unpaid carer to my disabled wife I must watch out for her 24 / 7 / 365 and make sure that she has some sort of quality of lfestyle even through 30 years of adversity and pain and suffering, the flipside of this scenario is that I spend a lot of time around our home and it enables me to reach out and help others as well through my music projects and through my webhosting for under-privileged children in a third world country.

At Christmas it is time for reflection, for hope, share your love when possible with your family and loved ones and maybe a prayer for hope for a recovery in 2021.

' Life Is Not A Rehearsal ' and ' It Is The Only One That We Have, Take Full Advantage Of It Now '.




Also see :-
* Submitting Your Music To Us
Recording Liners to Support Your Music
Get a Free Radio Advert
Time Out Shows
* Get Involved With Our Project

Wes George (former Webmaster with Sony Jazz UK)  
Blog Page - Facebook.com/streetjazzblogpage6 top of page
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