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Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

Jazz Rock / Modern Jazz Genesis

Written by Philippe Blache

Since its historical roots back at the end of the XIXe in Louisiana (U.S.A), jazz music has continuously been exposed to deep evolutions in style and form. Essentially vocalized at its debut with the "spiritual" (for its religious side) and with the emergence of the "blues" (for its profane side), jazz music progressively involved in the instrumental's universe thanks to its revival in the 30's. Louis Armstrong, Sydney Bechett provided a more achieved sense of orchestration and a taste for long personal solos, thus opening the door for great soloists.

In the 40's, jazz music knows its peak of popularity in the United States. Since that period, numerous movements appeared, making connections with new musical influences. At the beginning of the 40's, during the "Swing" era emerged the "Be-Bop" which blows up the traditional structures of jazz music. The rhythm is characterized by a fast tempo, using syncopations, integrating new instruments notably from African origins (bongos…). The most notorious composers of "Be-Bop" are Thelonious Monk (for the piano), Dizzie Gillepsie (for the trumpet) and Charlie Parker (on the alto saxophone). Between the 40's and the 60's, in parallel to Be-Bop appeared the Cool Jazz, cultivating a relaxing style. Its major representatives are Miles Davis (at the beginning of his career), Gerry Mulligan and Stan Getz.

During the 60's started a new jazz language which has contributed later to the growing effervescence for fusion jazz / free form rock…With its radical approach, this new movement is called "free jazz". This genre put to the extreme the emotional expression, the actual experience in a frenzy of freedom. The musicians break up all traditional structures in order to have free dispositions to experiment technical improvisations. Only the "collective" rising force stays in the classical jazz tradition. This genre is characterized by a renunciation of the beat (pulsation) and the tonality…putting the stress on a better exploitation of the registers offered by the instruments. In the 50's Charles Mingus' music prefigured the coming of "free jazz". His compositions deliver an incredible "fusion" of different genres (from classical music, gospel, jazz…) expressed with a powerful emotion. With his classic album "Out to Lunch" released in 1964, Eric Dolphy wrote a visionary music with an intense liberty expression. Thanks to the Jazz Composer's Guild Association (created in 1964) and a few recordings, Bill Dixon will also participate to the emergence of the genre. The tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders recorded in 1969 a mesmerizing album ("Karma") which contributed to impose the free jazz genre. With an absolute sense of originality his music combines long improvised solos to calm, mystical sequences. The jazz keyboarder Sun Ra created a totally original universe around "free jazz" thanks to his experience in electronics & "world". His music is unique, mixing a classic jazz background with strange, weird atmospheres. "Atlantis" (1967) is a formidable experimental jazz item, an "intergalactic" musical travel.

In 1970, the trumpet player Miles Davis published a sumptuous double album called "Bitches Brew" which represents a turning point in the history of jazz music: It is the perfect synthesis between jazz and rock for long improvised pieces. The term "jazz rock" was born. The genre is characterized by an extreme decomposition of the tempo, providing more and more sophisticated, complex rhythms sections, a great tendency for virtuoso instrumentals, an approach for new technologies (with the launch of electronic instruments as the electric piano, synth), percussion materials and modulated, amplified sounds thanks to electronic effects. Among other artists who belong to this modern jazz tendency we can quote:

  • Chick Corea: the famous jazz keyboarder who formed the incredible side project "Return to Forever" with the help of the guitarist Aldi Meola. The music delivers perfect epic, technical instrumentals duets. "Romantic warrior" (1976) is their absolute masterpiece.
  • Herbie Hancock: the legendary jazz keyboarder published marvelous funky, groovy, "hypnotic" synth experiences on his albums "Head hunters" (1973) "Thrust"(1974)
  • John Mc Laughlin: After several works with Miles Davis, the talented British guitarist will form The Mahavishnu Orchestra with Billy Cobham on drums, Jerry Goodman on the violin…In 1972, the band published his best album with "Birds of Fire": a summit in jazz rock. The music is very technical with constant changing moods and gorgeous progressive arrangements.
  • Weather report: a captivated, rhythmical, very orchestral jazz rock formation founded by the keyboarder Joe Zawinul & Wayne Shorter. "Heavy Weather", "Mysterious Traveller" (1974) are ones of their masterworks.
  • Embryo: a 70's German kraut/ jazz band who recorded several dynamic jazz rock sessions with stunning guitar, sax, violin duets and a subtle "ethnic" / "psych" flavor: "Opal" (1970) , "Rache" (1971) "Steig Aus" (1973), "Rocksession" (1973) are their most recommended efforts.
  • Allan Woldsworth: a late 70's fusion jazz guitarist who published complex, intricate, and unconventional fast instrumental improvisations. "Metal Fatigue" (1985) "Atavachron" (1986) are ones of his most successful albums.
(…)

These different jazz movements have been voluntary presented in a chronological order. However we must keep in mind that the different styles succeed or cohabited together, some of them dominated the others in function of the period.

For a complete list of jazz rock / fusion items:

http://www.progarchives.com/Progressive_rock_discography_LIST.asp?style=30


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