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JAZZ ROCK/FUSION

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Jazz Rock/Fusion definition


  1. Jazz Fusion is jazz that is strongly influenced by other styles of music. Jazz fusion is an ambiguous term that provides the first level sub-set down from Jazz. Jazz rock is a sub-sub set from jazz via jazz fusion. The ambiguity comes from an American tendency through the 90's and until now, to freely interchange jazz rock and jazz fusion, when in fact the latter term covers most hybrids of jazz fused with other forms of music. The roots of jazz rock can be traced back to RnB influenced soul-jazz artists such as Les McCann, Grant Green and Jimmy Smith, and young British jazzers such as Graham Bond, Ginger Baker, John McLaughlin, Jack Bruce, Georgie Fame, who were forced to use electronic instruments because the local club's acoustic instruments were reserved for the older established jazz musicians. Probably the first jazz artists that released recordings that mixed modern rock (circa 60s) with jazz were Larry Coryell, Jeremy Steig, Charles Lloyd, The Soft Machine, and The (Jazz) Crusaders. Meanwhile rock artists such as Cream, Grateful Dead and The Jimi Hendrix Experience were getting a lot of publicity and fame with their lengthy improvisations based on blues, rock, psychedelia and some jazz. These rock artists had an impact on Miles Davis who generated a lot of media attention to this new jazz-rock genre with his Bitches Brew album. From there the genre grew and exploded into numerous different directions. One of these directions was brass rock as exemplified by bands like Dreams, Chicago, BS&T and If. These bands combined elements of jazz, rock and classical music with arrangements for brass and woodwinds.

  2. Many other styles of music have been combined with jazz to create fusion including traditional music from around the world, R'n'B, rock, electronic music and pop music and jazz from Africa, Latin America, India and other places. One of the earliest examples of the use of the term fusion comes from the Indo-jazz fusion of Joe Harriott and John Mayer. Some of the more popular early practitioners of fusion included Weather Report and Herbie Hancock's Sextant. A few years later Shakti appears on the scene and expands the boundaries of fusion further, foreshadowing the World Fusion movement of the 90's.

  3. In part Nu.jazz grew out of the British acid jazz scene of the late 80s and early 90s, whilst modern leaders of nu.fusion cite Miles Davis and Jon Hassell as the godfathers of the genre. As the genre began to develop it took on other influences such as world beat/jazz fusion, psychedelic trip-hop, post-rock and mixtures of ambience with modern jazz. The jazz with electronia experiments that Jon Hassell was conducting in the late 80's, with the likes of Eno, were to be a major influence especially on the dance side of nu.jazz, sometimes known as nu.fusion. Three main elements make nu.jazz different from the more traditional jazz (rock) fusion. First of all there is less of an emphasis on instrumental virtuosity in nu.jazz (especially nu.fusion). Second, more use of electronics (especially skilled turntablism) and studio trickery that emphasizes sound textures. Third, nu.jazz tends to use more modern rhythms such as drum'n'bass, hip-hop, post-rock, and various mixtures of world beat rhythms. Progressive nu.jazz artists such as Bugge Wesseltoft, Nils Petter Molvaer and the Esbj÷rn Svensson Trio (E.S.T.), combine complicated compositions with modern rhythms to create new unheard of soundscapes - while the former two are leaders of nu.fusion, and with more emphasis on jazz playing, EST have been the leaders in straighter nu.jazz. Nu.jazz is loosely connected to other newer jazz fusion genres, particularly the more progressive live, jazz jam bands such as Medeski Martin & Wood or Garaj Mahal. It may seem that the only difference between the two genres is the country the artist is from or what scene they came up through.li>

Only the most progressive of nu jazz, jazz-rock and fusion artists are listed on Progarchives, although accceptability or not here may vary from person to person. All artists have elements of progressive rock in their music (e.g. Jean Luc Ponty, Bill Bruford or David Sancious) or they represent the most forward-looking and progressive element in their genre (e.g. Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock or Weather Report). It should be noted that those many Canterbury jazz rock fusion bands, e.g. Soft Machine, Soft Works, Soft Heap, Soft Machine Legacy, Gilgamesh etc. are to be found under the CANTERBURY heading in Prog Archives.

Dick Heath
John 'Easy Money'
Martin 'Alucard' Horst
(Edition 3.2. Nov 2009)

Current Team Members as at 12/24/14

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Jazz Rock/Fusion Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Jazz Rock/Fusion | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.37 | 659 ratings
KIND OF BLUE
Davis, Miles
4.37 | 459 ratings
IN A SILENT WAY
Davis, Miles
4.35 | 925 ratings
BIRDS OF FIRE
Mahavishnu Orchestra
4.37 | 174 ratings
WE'LL TALK ABOUT IT LATER
Nucleus
4.36 | 170 ratings
TIME CONTROL
Uehara, Hiromi
4.30 | 387 ratings
SPECTRUM
Cobham, Billy
4.60 | 38 ratings
THE COLOURS OF CHLO╦
Weber, Eberhard
4.27 | 670 ratings
THE INNER MOUNTING FLAME
Mahavishnu Orchestra
4.28 | 413 ratings
BITCHES BREW
Davis, Miles
4.27 | 565 ratings
ELEGANT GYPSY
Di Meola, Al
4.24 | 492 ratings
CARAVANSERAI
Santana
4.24 | 442 ratings
ROMANTIC WARRIOR
Return To Forever
4.33 | 100 ratings
MILESTONES
Davis, Miles
4.33 | 99 ratings
MODRŢ EFEKT & RADIM HLAD═K
Blue Effect (Modrř Efekt; M. Efekt)
4.30 | 126 ratings
VISITATION
Pohjola, Pekka
4.24 | 367 ratings
ABRAXAS
Santana
4.33 | 98 ratings
STADACON╔
Sloche
4.25 | 235 ratings
CROSSINGS
Hancock, Herbie
4.28 | 146 ratings
MAIDEN VOYAGE
Hancock, Herbie
4.39 | 60 ratings
L'AXE DU FOU
Forgas Band Phenomena

Jazz Rock/Fusion overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Jazz Rock/Fusion experts team

DEDALUS
Dedalus
DESCENDRE
Rypdal, Terje
PASSPORT - DOLDINGER
Passport
CRNA DAMA
Smak

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Latest Jazz Rock/Fusion Music Reviews


 Apocalypse by MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.61 | 189 ratings

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Apocalypse
Mahavishnu Orchestra Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Dr÷mmarenAdrian

4 stars Mahavishnu Orchestra is one of the most famous and acknowledged fusion rochestras in the history of rock music. They were'nt active for so many years and their classical studio albums aren't very many but have important places in the history of prog rock. Especially "Birds of fire" of course but also their debut "The Inner Mounting Flame". Now I'm going to write some words about their fourth record(if we count their live record) "Apocalypse" from 1974, fourty years ago this year. It is a long record with a lovely cover where we see a flutist and a forest which is reflected by a lake. The record features, besides the band, the London Symphony Orchestra and it was produced by George Martin. The line up were John McLoughlin(guitar), Jean-Luc Ponty (electric violins), Michael Walden(drums, percussion, vocals, clavinet), Ralph Armstrong(bass, contra bass, vocals) and Gayle Moran(keyboards, vocals).

"Smile of the Beyond" has lyrical vocals which caresses the listener is a very harmonic musical landscape. This is the album's only track with vocals and taht is a bit peculiar in the world of mahavishnu Orchestra(7/10). This orchestra plays in one way very typical jazz music with long compositions where they vary some themes but at the same time the music is very rich and complex. The music is full of heavily expressed details and the compositions are well made. It not feels not like improvisation at all, which a lot of jazz music tend to in my opinion. The longest tracks are the album's best. "Vision is a naked sword"(9/10) is so magnificent and epic and balances all the time between being very pretentious and very humble(9/10). "Hymn to him"(8/10) is the longest song and experimental but in many ways classical. The cooperation with the London Symphonic Orchestra is interesting and worked out well. "Power of love"(7/10) and "Wings of Karma"(7/10) aren't the most itneresting songs I have heard but they are still harmonic and very enjoyable to hear. Over all this record is an excellent addition to a music collection and if you like fusion it is a must have. I rate the record 3.8 which will be four stars. Best track: "Vision is a naked sword"

 Pihkasilmń Kaarnakorva  by POHJOLA, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.19 | 57 ratings

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Pihkasilmń Kaarnakorva
Pekka Pohjola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars Perhaps best known as the bassist for one of Finland's most famous progressive rock bands of the 70s, namely Wigwam, PEKKA POHJOLA has earned a stellar reputation as quite an accomplished solo artist as well. On his only solo album recorded and released while still in Wigwam he unleashes all his solo desires and delivers some of the most demanding and intricate jazz fusion that all of Europe had to offer in 1972.

PIHKASILM─ KAARNAKORVA (Resin Eye Of The Bark On The Ear) shows PEKKA's classical music study along with his Frank Zappa influences commingling in some seriously infectious jazz-fusion. Word has it that Zappa was so impressed with PEKKA's talents that he sought him out to recruit into the Zappa universe but wasn't meant to be.

While PIHKASILM─ KAARNAKORVA certainly has a early 70s Zappa influence strongly dictating musical composition it is not just a tribute album. There are all kinds of interesting developments on here that keep it fresh and original. Also from Wigwam, Jukka Gustavson lends his keyboard talents. This is really difficult music to describe without getting all technical on ya. Even beyond my vocabulary and understanding. This sounds like very precise and technical music but it doesn't alienate the casual listen.

This is jazz-fusion that has hooks and logical developments. The mixing of the violins, piano, organs, drums, clarinets, sax and flutes with PEKKA's outstanding bass playing is top notch and is a pleasant listen from beginning to end. Unfortunately PEKKA's music can be hard to find and is even to this day still fairly obscure and unknown outside of prog circles and his native land of Finland. That is a true shame for he was talent who left this planet way too young (died of alcoholism at the age of 56). Excellent debut album.

 Grand General by GRAND GENERAL album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.96 | 17 ratings

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Grand General
Grand General Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Norway seems to be the latest hot-spot these days when it comes to Progressive music and certainly the "Rune Grammofon label is helping in that regard. GRAND GENERAL was originally called the KENNETH KAPSTAD GROUP as they formed to play at a Jazz festival in Norway. They decided to change their name to GRAND GENERAL and this is their self-titled debut from 2013. Kenneth Kapstad by the way is the drummer for MOTORPSYCHO which is also on the "Rune Grammofon" label along with such bands as SHINING, ELEPHANT9, KROKOFANT, PANZERPAPPA and many more. GRAND GENERAL features members that have either "Metal" backgrounds or contemporary Jazz backgrounds. The music at times reminds me of MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA especially with the violin being so prominant, and ELEPHANT9 came to mind at times.

"Antics" is the longest tune at 12 1/2 minutes and it opens with this raw sounding guitar as the violin joins in with cymbals then bass as it builds. Things pick up after 1 1/2 minutes as they continue to jam. A heavier vibe arrives just before 3 minutes then the organ joins in bringing to mind ELEPHANT9. Some excellent drum work here. The violin starts to lead then it's the guitars turn then the organ as they continue to jam heavily. What an intense and heavy opening number. "The Fall Of Troy" has a heavy and melodic intro then it settles into a really good groove with the violin playing over top. Again the drumming is outstanding. The guitar comes to the fore 2 1/2 minutes in then the violin is back leading a minute later. The guitar is lighting it up 5 1/2 minutes in. "Clandestine" has this sparse beginning that slowly builds. Love the restraint here that really recalls MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA as it seems like it's going to break-out but it never really does. A stunning piece.

"Tachyon" has a punchy rhythm to it then the violin joins in after 1 1/2 minutes playing over top. Keyboards replace the violin a minute later. Here comes the violin again after 3 1/2 minutes ripping it up. It calms down some around 5 minutes but still sounds amazing. "Ritual" is my favourite and it has this eerie atmosphere to start as random sounds come and go in an experimental manner. It starts to become melodic 2 1/2 minutes in as the drums and violin create a groove. The guitar joins in as well as we get a solid Jazz/Fusion flavour. "Red Eye" has a good groove to it with fuzzed out bass. It does settle back some before 3 minutes as the violin solos over top. Again the drumming is outstanding. The violinist is really putting on a show here then the guitar replaces the violin after 5 1/2 minutes. The violin is back after 9 minutes then a big finish.

Fans of MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA and ELEPHANT9 really should check this band out as they are incredible. A very solid 4 stars, maybe closer to 4.5 stars.

 Similarity by EYOT album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.63 | 6 ratings

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Similarity
Eyot Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Approgximation

5 stars Eyot is the 4-man Serbian ensemble crowning a multi-award wining combination that music speaks widely for it's self. Founded as recently as 2008, they have quickly amasses a noble reputation holding a high regard of appraisal. Their third album Similarity from 2014 graciously felt like a transport mechanism to the 'bygone' smoky-bar-room era of sparkly contemporary brass-string Jazz movements, sporting its style in a crisp, rich manner that effectively classifies itself among the overall album content. Though the Jazz aspect dominates the scene as its intended expression, it still gets a fine collaboration of etheric and futuristic sounds from Milenovic to establish almost a Post-Neo modern take. Milenovic seems to get the pacified arena worked up with an array of eerie and spacey measure. Track-2 'Druids' soon makes addition of finely sprinkled Post Rock and 'Mild-Hard Rock' essence in an 'echoy' air, allowing the Jazz to hold its form and that crisp clarity. Even Ilijic's Prog Jazz signature that comes thru on occasion feels contemporary and intentional. Stojiljkovic's bass lines are also a truly classic entwined with signature lines. May bands arrange for a small bass note to vibrate thru, but Stojiljkovic plays a fantastic set clearly audible and well stated stance. Vojvodic's take on the Classic Jazz Drumming scope is something to behold, with fantastic arrangements to simple mood. This fine instrumental album is by no means a complication of matters generally involved with Prog or a unique collection of sound tools which interprets that unique does not necessarily constitute a complex heavy arrangement that can emerge from inventive or improvisational setups. Although Similarity does listen like an arrangement of eight tales in (large) variation, no track complimenting the previous or the next, the emotions are still warm and committed. Ilijic's small nuances with the keys on 10.41 minute track-4 'Similarity' makes the listen personal, like when you have that urge to increase your monitor levels a 'little' more to appreciate the fine technicality. It does sound fantastic louder. All instruments are meticulously (mathematically) played in a variety of styles from classic to contemporary to modern?. Am I feeling a taint of future here, The Chalmun's 'Mos Eisley' Cantina? I'd like to think so. I felt it the four times the album was listened to, evolving with fresh content along side the Jazz. Eyot makes a bold statement about its intent, but does not attempt to barrage or hammer-home its distinctively classy form. Absorbing the rewarding experience of Similarity is one different in the way you would expect normally associated with absorbing high value audio, one is left with a quality reminiscing of classic jazz worked with a modernity. I loved this work. ~Approgximation~ ~ProgNational~
 Heretik Volume I: Body of Accusations by NATHAN MAHL album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.33 | 22 ratings

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Heretik Volume I: Body of Accusations
Nathan Mahl Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars The triumphant comeback of Nathan Mahl of didn't slip through the organizers of big prog events and in May 99' the band was given an invitation to perform among the bands of the Nearfest 1999 in the place of the disbanded Finneus Gauge.At the end of the year several facts surfaced with Guy LeBlanc releasing his debut solo album and being proposed a place in the line-up of Camel, whom he joined in 2000.Original guitarist Mark Spenard joined the band again in the place of Jose Bergeron, while his brother Alan Bergeron quit from his duties during the recordings of the next album, feeling that Nathan Mahl was slowly becoming a studio project.LeBlanc played the rest of the drums for the new work ''Heretik volume I - Body of accusations'', released in 2000, telling the story of a man, as he awaits his trial for crimes against society.

Nathan Mahl would sink deep into the progressive waters with this album, as three out of possible six tracks are longer than 10 minutes, highlighted by the 21-min. ''Heretik part I''.Actually it doesn't get much more HAPPY THE MAN-like than this album, Nathan Mahl pay a tribute to the mass of 70's bands, which played a quirky, inventive Progressive Rock with both symphonic and jazzy overtones, as LeBlanc displays a monstrous performance on organ, synths and piano throughout.Imagine a mix of GENESIS, CAMEL, BRIAN AUGER'S OBLIVION EXPRESS and GREENSLADE as a detailed set of influences and sounds for this work and get prepared to listen to challenging, dense and virtuosic musicianship with beautiful interludes, grandiose textures and lots of jazzy overtones.In fact LeBlanc oftens overpowers the material with some furious, smoky synth soloing, you get a taste of a DEREK SHERINIAN/JORDAN RUDESS atmosphere during thIs noodling, but as a main composer he was also responsible for the well-crafted, refined arrangements on this album with the obvious symphonicism of the old bands.Nathan Mahl's music is filled with inventive breaks and keyboard changes, some accurate guitar chops and a solid rhythm section, the band even rocks at times and the material explores a range of different sounds, some extended Fusion pyrotechnics to go along with Classical elements and the complexity of the original prog movement.Very few vocals in the process, ''Heretik volume I - Body of accusations'' is first and foremost an album of an instrumental fest with emphasis on demanding orchestrations.

A great little pearl from the early-00's, seemingly getting a bit lost into a labyrinth of instrumental tricks, but containing overall excellent and well-plated material.Strongly recommended, very good mix of symphonic and Fusion stylings...3.5 stars.

 Soliloquio  by ICONOCLASTA album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.75 | 20 ratings

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Soliloquio
Iconoclasta Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars About three months after ''Suite mexicana'' Iconoclasta released their third full-length album ''Soliloquio'', this was the seventh and last pressing on their own Discos Rosenbach and the first album to feature guest musicians: another member of the Moreno family, Rosa Echevarria, provides vocals in one track, Alexandro Gonzalez plays flute in another one, Arturo Huizar sings in the same piece, Laura Vazquez also sings in a pair and Jose Luis Romero guests on sax.

''Soliloquio'' consists of four long cuts and the first one in line, the 6-min. ''Cuando la musica era espiritual...'' provides the most symphonic of all sparks delivered by the band so far, an excellent piece of romantic Symphonic Rock with beautiful, operatic female vocals, soaring synthesizers, soft guitars and pianos and some surprising use of bells, a magnificent opener to say the least.The 7-min. ''Solo tu fruto'' follows more or less the same vein, this is very good Symphonic Rock from the 80's with dreamy keyboard parts and GENESIS-styled guitars, supported by crystalline Spanish female vocals and some bombastic sections, somewhat drifting away from the smoother sound of the opener, the style though remains fairly symphonic and pretty progressive.''7:19'' is sung by Arturo Huizar, this one contains some Fusion hints as proposed in the previous works, but the sound of the guitar with the STEVE HACKETT-like chops and solos screams GENESIS, while the later part of the piece contains also some incredible folky flute psychedelics.Very dense and fast music with accurate performances.The 15-min. title-track is another convincing composition by the best Mexican progressive band of the 80's.Dramatic and romantic Progressive Rock, often flirting with the Italian sound of period bands, containing some slight VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR influences during the limited sax and organ lines, the music passes through dreamy and more complex variations, the female vocals are again beautiful and some jazzy hints are detectable throughout.Solid work on a long and emphatic arrangement.

Iconoclasta's fourth work resembles much to the sound of the debut.It's rather closer to GENESIS with strong symphonic overtones overpowering the light jazzy vibes.Great stuff and quite an achievement for 1987.Strongly recommended, reissues are out, including the two tracks from the ''Suite mexicana'' EP...3.5 stars.

 Syncope by SYNCOPE album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.51 | 3 ratings

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Syncope
Syncope Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Syncope was a collective of Canadian musicians, based in the city of Hull, Quebec.The band's activities seem to start around early 1975 with several contests following, in which Syncope won a handful of prices.They were led by keyboardist Francois Groulx and other members were singer/trombonist Bernard Grenier, bassist Robert Villeneuve (also a participant on Connivence's first album), guitarist Serge Ippersiel, saxophonist Sylvain Soucy, drummer Jean Dumontier and singer Yves Lacroix.They recorded their only self-titled album at the Ottawa Studios between September 79' and May 80' with the help of Serge Mercier on trumpet and Michel Allaire on glockenspiel, privately pressed and distributed in 1980.

The style of the band was a CHICAGO-influenced dreamy Fusion with certain progressive overtones and clean, French vocals.Lots of brass instrumental parts, plenty of ethereal keyboards and electric piano and some lyrical depth in the process completed an airy listening experience, which was a bit too soft at moments yet contains impressive progressive interplays and stretched instrumental actions.Sounding nothing like an 80's album, ''Syncope'' is fairly grounded in the Quebec Prog fundamentals, they made careful use of expressive vocals, they added some Pop flavors here and there and they let their jazzy influences surface to create an enganging style, filled with smooth instrumentals, melodious themes and pompous brass echoes.The sound is very well balanced between keyboards, guitars and trombone/saxes, the eponymous track, clocking at about 10 minutes, is an excellent proposal on jazzy Canadian Prog with soft jazzy sax, marching trombone, guitar technique in display and efficient piano lines, but again there are pieces like ''Le bleu d'Hull'', which sound very dubious and accesible, despite maintaining an artistic profile.In general the album lacks the complexity and drama of pure prog products, but passes through as a creation of shiny jazzy Prog Rock with melodic overtones and positive vibes.

The underground distribution of the album and the choice to release it at the dawn of the 80's had a negative impact on Syncope's fame, the band apparently disbanded sometime later.This is still a lovely and optimistic approach on dreamy, jazzy Prog Rock, highlighted by its mellow still professional interactions.Recommended.

 The First Seven Days by HAMMER, JAN album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.05 | 33 ratings

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The First Seven Days
Jan Hammer Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Suedevanshoe

5 stars Jan Hammer blazes a new trail on his first solo album post-Mahavishnu. "The First Seven Days" is a very compelling listen. Instead of in your face jazzrock, Hammer goes progtronica.

The titles of the songs and the elastic mood of the music does a terrific job portraying the concept of the beginning of the world laid out in the Christian Bible. Hammer is about the only musician you hear, except for an extra percussionist on two tracks and a violin on four tracks.

Every note is quality. I should think most discerning prog listeners would put this somewhere from good to great, in my house it's great. Definitely a mood piece though, when taken cover to cover.

For some reason, this album has always reminded me of the album "Layers" by Les McCann. Probably because they're both one man synth mood workouts, probably because they are both in my top 50 albums.

 Visible by MEZZANOTTE & SYNTAXIS, CARLO album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Visible
Carlo Mezzanotte & Syntaxis Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars An Italian Jazz Fusion band, based in Rome, and led by keyboardist Carlo Mezzanotte.He was already known as an accomplished arranger, composer and pianist during the 80's, working in several theater projects and jazz collectives, while in the 90's he became involved in Rodolfo Maltese's Ethno-Rock act Indaco.At the same time, around 1993/94 he established Syntaxis along with guitarist Massimiliano Rosati, drummer Stefano Pacioni and veteran bassist Valerio Serangeli.They released the debut album ''Visible'' in 1997 on the Iktius label, recorded at the UM Studios and featuring also Alberto Di Giacomo on percussion, Maurizio Lazzaro on additional guitars and Francesco Marini on steinerphone, a trumpet-like instrument.

While this is far from a flawless release, you can only but admire the solid Electric Fusion of Carlo Mezzanotte and his company, which draws influences from Free Jazz, guitar-based Fusion ala ALAN HOLDSWORTH and more typical jazzy works from the 70's in the vein of compatriots IL BARICENTRO and AGORA or even BRAND X.Smokin' executions with tons of tireless breaks and tempo changes, technical virtuosity and balanced instrumentation with guitars and keyboards changing leading roles all the time.I am also reminded of Percy Jones' TUNNELS listening to the album, the softer parts of which recall the more ethereal side of RETURN TO FOREVER.There are two black holes to detect in ''Visible''.First comes the slightly sterile production, which makes Mezzanotte's keyboard flashing sound a bit thin throughout, I definitely prefer the acoustics of his electric piano instead.Then there are those turns towards pure Jazz, which sound too improvised and fail in comparison to the structured and more electric pieces.The rest of the album is more than ok though, it's fiery Fusion with powerful jazzy components, trying to keep a balance between technical displaying and laid-back atmospherics.The result is convincing and sincere with lots of interesting solos and rhythm variations, the tracks with the electric guitar in evidence are definitely the most interesting ones, featuring a powerful and tight sound.

Great purchase for anyone into contemporary Jazz Fusion.An extended palette oif keyboard, piano and guitar fests, performed with passion and integrity.Recommended.

 Sparta   by KENSO album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.73 | 33 ratings

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Sparta
Kenso Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars In 1986 Kenso released their first ever live work ''Music for unknown five musicians'' and in 1987 comes a private-pressed compilation of tracks from their early albums, titled ''Self portrait''.Around the same time recordings for their upcoming album ''I Sparti'' had already started, this prooved to be though a slow work in progress, partly due to member exits and the fading trend of progressive music.Haruhiko Yamamoto appeared in only a couple of tracks, before being replaced by new drummer Masayuki Muraishi.Things were starting to roll over again, before in 1989 Kimiyoshi Matsumoto quit and new bassist Shunji Saegusa was inducted to the line-up to complete the album.''I Sparti'' was eventually released the same year on King's branch-label Crime Records.

For the first time Kenso were performing with the standard assests of keyboards/guitar/bass/drums without the use of an expanded instrumentation, this fact along with the hard period for progressive music led to a more synthetic and modern sound, far from the 70's flavors of their early releases.Even under these difficult circumstances the band managed to keep an honest faith in the intricate roots of their Fusion sound and the album comes like a combination of STEVE HACKETT-like dreamy keyboard/guitar orchestrations, smokin' ALLAN HOLDSWORTH-like Jazz Fusion and the inbetween HAPPY THE MAN-flavored aesthetics.The compositions are all in a very high level, the turn towards more jazzy and Fusion deliveries is more than apparent in the tricky synth lines and the piano as well as in Shimizu's impressive guitar moves, but there are still some symphonic breaks of excellent inspiration with a nice and ethereal atmosphere.You can listen to some strings popping up in several tracks, but these are propably played via the keyboards.What I like about Kenso is that these guys never overdo it, the have clearly understood the meaning of composition even in progressive arrangements and they always add some lovely melodious themes between the more emphatic and technical executions.Great synth and piano interludes are sitting next to bombastic Fusion pyrotechnics and the drumming is phenomenal, extremely pounding and technically efficient.

I certainly miss some of the more human sounds of their self-titled works, but this is 1989 and ''I Sparta'' really shines among the year's releases.This is solid, grandiose and melodic Fusion with a couple of mindblowing pieces.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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Jazz Rock/Fusion bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
3RD WORLD ELECTRIC Multi-National
4 FRONT United States
7 FOR 4 Germany
EIVIND AARSET Norway
JOHN ABERCROMBIE United States
ABLUTION Sweden
ABUS DANGEREUX France
ACCORDO DEI CONTRARI Italy
ADDISON PROJECT Canada
AERA Germany
AFROSKULL United States
AGHARTA Canada
AGORA Italy
AIN SOPH Japan
AKA MOON Belgium
JAN AKKERMAN Netherlands
ALAS Argentina
ALKEMY France
ALKOTRIO Russia
ALTRUISMOS Argentina
AMARILLO CIAN Y MAGENTA Costa Rica
AMIGDALA Italy
ANAMORPHOSE France
APOSTOLIS ANTHIMOS Poland
ANTIH╔ROE Argentina
AQUARELLE Canada
ARATTA REBIRTH Armenia
ARCANA United States
ARCHIMEDES BADKAR Sweden
ARCO IRIS Argentina
NEIL ARDLEY United Kingdom
BRUCE ARNOLD United States
ARSENAL Russia
ARTI E MESTIERI Italy
TIHOMIR POP ASANOVIC Yugoslavia
ASSOCIATION P.C. Multi-National
ASSOLO DI BONGO Italy
ASTRAKAN United Kingdom
ASTRO CAN CARAVAN Finland
ATMOSPHERES Multi-National
ATTENTION DEFICIT United States
BRIAN AUGER United Kingdom
AUM Brazil
AURORA United States
AVANT GARDEN United States
AVIOLINEE UTOPIA Italy
AXIS Greece
AYERS ROCK Australia
AZIGZA United States
B F Estonia
BAALBEK Argentina
BACK DOOR United Kingdom
BAKMAK Germany
BANDHADA Chile
BANDVIVIL Japan
BANGTOWER Multi-National
PETER BANKS United Kingdom
BARCELONA TRACTION Spain
PETER BARDENS' MIRAGE United Kingdom
IL BARICENTRO Italy
RANJIT BAROT India
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